CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs
CURRENT CIVIL SOL
The current SOL in Alabama for all sex offenses against all defendants where the victim is under age 19 is age 25.
CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT
Changes Since 2002:
Age Cap: In 2002 Alabama’s civil SOLs were some of the shortest in the country. Its SOL was 2 years for personal injury and 6 years for assault, battery, or false imprisonment. However, it did have a tolling provision in effect which gave minors an additional 3 years after reaching the age of majority to sue for their injuries, until age 22 (age 19, plus 3 years). The tolling provision placed an upper limit on filing claims of 20 years from the date of accrual, which means no later than 20 years from the last date of the abuse. In 2019, Alabama extended the civil SOL for all sex offenses, including sex abuse, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking against a person under 19 years of age to age 25 (age 19, plus 6 years).
Discovery: Alabama has not had a discovery rule.
CURRENT ALABAMA CIVIL LAW
Ala. Code § 6-2-34 - Commencement of actions -- Six years.
The following must be commenced within six years:
(1) Actions for any trespass to person or liberty, such as false imprisonment or assault and battery;
(2) Actions for any trespass to real or personal property;
(3) Actions for the detention or conversion of personal property;
(4) Actions founded on promises in writing not under seal;
(5) Actions for the recovery of money upon a loan, upon a stated or liquidated account or for arrears of rent due upon a parol demise;
(6) Actions for the use and occupation of land;
(7) Motions and other actions against the sureties of any sheriff, coroner, constable, or any public officer and actions against the sureties of executors, administrators, or guardians for any nonfeasance, misfeasance, or malfeasance, whatsoever, of their principal, the time to be computed from the act done or omitted by their principal which fixes the liability of the surety;
(8) Motions and other actions against attorneys-at-law for failure to pay over money of their clients or for neglect or omission of duty; and
(9) Actions upon any simple contract or speciality not specifically enumerated in this section.
Ala. Code § 6-2-38 - Commencement of actions -- Two years.
(a) An action by a representative to recover damages for wrongful act, omission, or negligence causing the death of the decedent under Sections 6-5-391 and 6-5-410 must be commenced within two years from the death.
(b) All actions by common carriers of property subject to Chapter 3 of Title 37 for recovery of their charges, or any part thereof, shall be begun within two years from the time the cause of action accrues and not after.
(c) For recovery of charges, action shall be begun against common carriers of property by motor vehicles subject to this article within two years from the time the cause of action accrues and not after, except as provided in subsection (d) of this section; provided, that if claim for the overcharge has been presented in writing to the carrier within the two-year period of limitation, said period shall be extended to include six months from the time notice in writing is given by the carrier to the claimant of disallowance of the claim, or any part or parts thereof, specified in the notice.
(d) If on or before the expiration of the two-year period of limitation in subsection (c) of this section, a common carrier by motor vehicle subject to Chapter 3 of Title 37 begins action under subsection (c) of this section for recovery of charges in respect of the same transportation service or, without beginning action, collects charges in respect of that service, said period of limitation shall be extended to include 90 days from the time such action is begun or such charges are collected by the carrier.
(e) The cause of action in respect of a shipment of property shall, for the purpose of subsections (b) through (f) of this section, be deemed to accrue upon delivery or tender of delivery thereof by the carrier and not after.
(f) The term “overcharges” as used in subsections (b) through (e) of this section shall mean charges for transportation services in excess of those applicable thereto under the tariffs lawfully on file with the Public Service Commission.
(g) Any action brought under Section 25-5-11(b) must be brought within two years of such injury or death.
(h) All actions for malicious prosecution must be brought within two years.
(i) All actions for seduction must be brought within two years.
(j) All actions qui tam or for a penalty given by statute to the party aggrieved, unless the statute imposing it prescribes a different limitation, must be brought within two years.
(k) All actions of libel or slander must be brought within two years.
(l) All actions for any injury to the person or rights of another not arising from contract and not specifically enumerated in this section must be brought within two years.
(m) All actions for the recovery of wages, overtime, damages, fees, or penalties accruing under laws respecting the payment of wages, overtime, damages, fees, and penalties must be brought within two years.
(n) All actions commenced to recover damages for injury to the person or property of another wherein a principal or master is sought to be held liable for the act or conduct of his agent, servant, or employee under the doctrine of respondeat superior must be brought within two years.
(o) All actions commenced under Section 6-5-411 to recover damages for injury or damage to property of a decedent must be brought within two years.
(p) If any action is commenced before the time limited has expired, judgment is entered for the plaintiff and such judgment is arrested or reversed on appeal, the plaintiff or his legal representative may commence an action again within one year from the reversal or arrest of such judgment though the period limited may in the meantime have expired; and in like manner, if more than one judgment is arrested or reversed, an action may be recommenced within one year.
Ala. Code § 6-2-8 - Suspension of limitation -- Disabilities
(a) If anyone entitled to commence any of the actions enumerated in this chapter, to make an entry on land or enter a defense founded on the title to real property is, at the time the right accrues, below the age of 19 years, or insane, he or she shall have three years, or the period allowed by law for the commencement of an action if it be less than three years, after the termination of the disability to commence an action, make entry, or defend. No disability shall extend the period of limitations so as to allow an action to be commenced, entry made, or defense made after the lapse of 20 years from the time the claim or right accrued. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as denying any imprisoned person the right to commence an action enumerated in this chapter and to make any proper appearances on his or her behalf in such actions.
(b) If anyone entitled to commence any of the actions enumerated in this chapter is, at the time the right accrues, below the age of 19 years, or insane, and the injury upon which the action is based arises from a sex offense as described in Section 15-20A-5, he or she shall have six years after the termination of the disability to commence the action.
(c) When both disabilities coexist at the time the claim accrued, the limitation does not attach until both are removed.
(d) A disability which did not exist when a claim accrued does not suspend the operation of the limitation unless the contrary is expressly provided.
Love v. Wyeth, 569 F. Supp. 2d 1228, 1232 (N.D. Ala. 2008) (quoting Black v. Pratt Coal & Coke Co., 85 Ala. 504, 507, 5 So. 89, 91 (1888).
Travis v. Ziter, 681 So. 2d 1348, 1354 (Ala. 1996) (In Alabama there is no “discovery rule unless it is specifically prescribed by the Legislature” and there is no statutory discovery rule for child sex abuse).
Ex parte Trawick, 959 So. 2d 51, 63 (Ala. 2006) (Noting “because J.V. and R.V. were minors, § 6–2–8, Ala. Code 1975, suspends the statute of limitations, allowing them a period of three years after reaching the age of majority to file a civil case”).
Warren by and Through Robinson v. Alabama Dep’t of Mental Health, 2019 WL 1002505, *1, n. 2 (N.D.Al. Mar. 1, 2019).
CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL
There is currently no SOL for rape and felony and misdemeanor sex offenses against victims under the age of 16 and an SOL of 5 years and 1 year after commission for all other felonies and misdemeanors, respectively.
CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT
|NO SOL||Ala. Code § 15-3-5(a)(1)
FELONY & MISDEMEANOR SEX OFFENSES VICTIM UNDER 16
|NO SOL||Ala. Code § 15-3-5(a)(4)|
|5 YEARS AFTER OFFENSE||Ala. Code § 15-3-1|
|1 YEAR AFTER OFFENSE||Ala. Code § 15-3-2|
NO DNA STATUTE
Changes Since 2002:
In 1985, Alabama eliminated the criminal SOL for rape at any age, and any felony involving the use, attempted use, or threat of violence; for victims under the age of 16, it eliminated the criminal SOL for all other felony and misdemeanor sexual offenses. This put Alabama near the forefront of child sex abuse criminal SOLs. In successive years, Alabama clarified and expanded the list of sex offenses against victims under age 16 for which there is no SOL: 2011 (rape, sodomy, sexual misconduct, sexual torture, sexual abuse of a child, sexual abuse, indecent exposure enticing, prostitution, incest, pornography, human trafficking); 2016 (foster parent engaging in sex act); 2017 (sexual extortion, directing a child to engage in a sex act); 2018 (foster parent engaging in sex act). The SOL for remaining felonies is five years after the commission of the offense and the SOL for misdemeanors is one year after the commission of the offense.
CURRENT ALABAMA CRIMINAL LAW
Ala. Code § 15-3-1 - Felonies generally
Except as otherwise provided by law, the prosecution of all felonies, except those specified in Section 15-3-3, Section 15-3-5, or any other felony that has a specified limitations period, shall be commenced within five years after the commission of the offense.
Ala. Code § 15-3-2 - Misdemeanors
Unless otherwise provided, the prosecution of all misdemeanors before a circuit or district court must be commenced within 12 months after the commission of the offense.
Ala. Code § 15-3-5 - Offenses having no limitation
(a) There is no limitation of time within which a prosecution must be commenced for any of the following offenses:
(1) Any capital offense.
(2) Any felony involving the use, attempted use, or threat of, violence to a person.
(3) Any felony involving serious physical injury or death of a person.
(4) Any sex offense pursuant to Section 15-20A-5 involving a victim under 16 years of age, regardless of whether it involves force, serious physical injury, or death.
(5) Any felony involving arson of any type.
(6) Any felony involving forgery of any type.
(7) Any felony involving counterfeiting.
(8) Any felony involving drug trafficking.
(b) The amendments made by this act shall apply to both of the following:
(1) To all crimes committed after January 7, 1985.
(2) To all crimes committed before January 7, 1985, for which no statute of limitations provided under pre-existing law has run as of January 7, 1985.
(c) Nothing herein shall be construed to mean that the adoption of this act indicates that any former statute of limitations applying to capital offenses is invalid as the result of any decision of any court invalidating the capital punishment statutes of the State of Alabama.
Kirby v. State, 500 So. 2d 79, 80 (Ala. Crim. App. 1986) (no criminal SOL for rape as rape is a capital offense for SOL purposes).
The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the Alabama SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.
Last Updated: April 21, 2021