After a crime's occurred, we all know the first thing we're supposed to do is call the police. Unfortunately, in the case of rape or sexual assault, people may not do that right away — or at all — for a variety of reasons: The perpetrator may be someone they know, they may be unsure of whether or not what happened to them was illegal, they may be worried about being believed, and so on. In fact, according to RAINN, about two out of three sexual assaults go unreported.
To make matters worse, several states have statutes of limitations that prevent people from getting a chance to see their perpetrator behind bars. We've seen that recently with famous figures like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein; despite the overwhelming number of women accusing them, many of the stories can't go to court because the statute of limitations has passed.
Many states have no statutes of limitations, and many others give you between 10-20 years to report a rape. However, these states give barely any time at all in comparison*:
Arkansas: Six years for first degree offenses; three years for second, third, and fourth
Connecticut: Five years
Florida: No statute of limitations for sexual battery with physical force or deadly weapon; four years for first degree offenses, three years for any other degree
Georgia: 15 years for rape; four years for all other felony sex offenses
Hawaii: Six years for first degree offenses; three years for second and third; two years for fourth
Illinois: 10 years if assault is reported to the police within three years; three years otherwise
Indiana: No statute of limitations for level 1 or 2 offenses; five years for all other felony sex offenses
Nebraska: No statute of limitations for first or second degree offenses; three years for other felony sex offenses
New Hampshire: Six years
New York: No statute of limitations for first degree rape; five years for second and third
North Dakota: Seven years for gross sexual imposition, three years for all other felony sex offenses
Rhode Island: No statute of limitations for first degree offense; three years for second and third degree
Vermont: No statute of limitations for aggravated sexual assault; six years for sexual assault
*all statutes based on felony sex offenses committed by actors over the age of 18, on victims over the age of 18. Statutes according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, last updated December 2016.
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