House of Representatives
Office of Program Research
Public Safety Committee
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
Brief Description: Making felony sex offenses a crime that may be prosecuted at any time after its commission.
Sponsors: Representatives Griffey, Orwall, Klippert, McCabe, Kraft, Caldier, Muri, Bergquist, Stanford, Fitzgibbon, McDonald, Doglio and Macri.
Hearing Date: 1/17/17
Staff: Omeara Harrington (786-7136).
Statutes of Limitation.
A statute of limitations is a time limit for initiating prosecution after a crime is committed. Once a statute of limitations has expired, a prosecutor is barred from bringing charges against an alleged perpetrator.
Statutes of limitation vary according to the crime. Generally, simple misdemeanors must be prosecuted within one year, gross misdemeanors must be prosecuted within two years, and felony offenses must be prosecuted within three years of the commission of the crime. However, the statute of limitations for certain specified felony offenses has been extended to five years, six years, or 10 years, and there is no limit on the time within which a prosecution must commence for the crime of Murder, and various other crimes in which a death results.
Statutes of Limitation for Sex Offenses.
For some felony sex offenses, the statute of limitations varies depending on the age of the victim at the time of the offense or when the offense was reported to law enforcement.
Statute of Limitations
Victim is Under Age 18
Victim is Over Age 18
Rape in the first and second degrees.
Victim's thirtieth birthday
10 years (if reported within
one year); or
3 years (if not reported within
Rape of a Child in the first, second, and third degrees.
Child Molestation in the first, second, and third degrees.
Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
Incest in the first and second degrees.
Indecent Liberties when the other person is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.
For all other felony sex offenses, the statute of limitations is three years. This includes, but is not limited to: Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor; Custodial Sexual Misconduct in the first degree; and Promoting Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor.
The periods of limitation for sex offenses run from the date of commission or one year from the date on which the identity of the suspect is conclusively established by deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing or by photograph, whichever is later.
Applicability of Changes to Statutes of Limitation.
When the Legislature enacts an amendment increasing a criminal statute of limitations period, the new limitation period applies to all crimes not yet time barred on the effective date of the change. However, a legislative change to lengthen a statute of limitations does not impact cases in which the statute of limitations has already expired.
Summary of Bill:
The statute of limitations is eliminated for certain sex offenses, allowing a prosecutor to bring charges at any time after the commission of the offense. The statute of limitations is eliminated for the following:
Rape in the first, second, and third degrees;
Rape of a Child in the first, second, and third degrees;
Child Molestation in the first, second, and third degrees;
Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the first degree;
Sexually Violating Human Remains;
Custodial Sexual Misconduct in the first degree;
Incest in the first and second degrees;
Sexual Exploitation of a Minor;
Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes;
Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor;
Promoting Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor; and
Promoting Travel for Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor.
Fiscal Note: Requested on January 12, 2017.
Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.