Senator Leyva: Eliminate Statute of Limitations for Rape

California Would Grant Rape Victims Greater Access to Justice

Monday, November 9, 2015

SACRAMENTO – In order to ensure justice for victims and survivors of felony sexual offenses, Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) today announced that—when the California State Senate reconvenes in early January—she will introduce legislation to end the statute of limitations for rape and related crimes.

Specifically, this legislation will seek to allow the indefinite criminal prosecution of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation, and sexual penetration.  Currently, existing California law generally limits the prosecution of a felony sexual offense to only 10 years after the offense is committed, unless DNA evidence is found which then offers a victim additional time. 

“Survivors of sexual offenses, including rape, deserve to know that California law stands on their side as they seek justice,” Senator Leyva said. “A sexual predator should not be able to evade legal consequences in California for no other reason than that the time limits set in state law have expired.  Victims should have the opportunity to prove their accusations in a court of law, even if it is over a decade after the offense was committed.  It is long overdue that California stands up for rape victims—regardless of how long ago the alleged offenses happened—so that we can continue to fight for victims, promote public safety and protect our neighborhoods and communities.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only two in 100 rapists will be convicted of a felony and spend any time in prison.  The other 98% will never be punished for their crime.

In spite of their prevalence, rape and sexual assault are seriously under-reported crimes and rarely lead to felony conviction or imprisonment.  Victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and four times more likely to contemplate suicide. However, it can take many years before a victim identifies a traumatic experience as criminal sexual assault, and it can take even longer for the victim to feel confident and safe enough to report the crime.

As co-sponsors, the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office are committed to ensuring passage of this proposed legislation

“With this legislation, California will send a strong message that rape and sexual assault are heinous crimes to be taken very seriously. We believe that all victims and survivors deserve the option to seek legal remedies, and district attorneys in our state should have the opportunity to evaluate these cases and determine whether they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, without the interference of arbitrary time limits,” said CWLC Executive Director Betsy Butler.

Senator Leyva is also proud to have San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos in strong support as co-sponsor of this critical public safety legislation.

“I support this bill in an effort to hold violent sex offenders and child molesters accountable for their actions, regardless of the time that has passed between the crime and our current ability to file a criminal case.  With the advancements in DNA and evidence collection, if evidence is discovered that may prove a suspect guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt and prevent further crimes from occurring, simply put, victims should not be denied justice.  The law should not make the criminal justice system more difficult for victims nor should it allow sexual predators the ability to escape justice,” said San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos.