CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs
CURRENT CIVIL SOL
The current SOL in Arkansas for civil claims for child sex abuse against all defendants is age 55 with a discovery rule of 3 years. A 2-year revival window for previously expired claims against any type of defendant will open on February 1, 2022.
CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT
|2-YEAR WINDOW (CLOSES 1/31/24)|
Changes Since 2002:
Age Cap: In 2002, those who were sexually abused in Arkansas had until age 21 (age of majority, 18, plus 3 years) or 3 years after the victim discovers she was injured and the injury was caused by the sex abuse. In 2021, Arkansas extended its civil SOL to age 55.
Discovery: Arkansas has not adapted its common law discovery rule to child sexual abuse claims. In 1993, however, Arkansas enacted Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-130, a 3-year statutory discovery rule specifically for child sex abuse claims. Victims may file claims within 3 years after discovering their injury and “the effect of the injury or condition attributable to the childhood sexual abuse”. No Arkansas state court has interpreted the discovery statute or determined its applicability yet, however an Arkansas federal court did rule that the statute “cannot be used to revive” a time-barred claim and is not limited to actions against perpetrators.
Revival Law: In 2021, Arkansas passed the Justice for Vulnerable Victims of Sexual Abuse Act, which will open a 2-year revival window for previously expired child sex abuse claims against perpetrators, other individuals, private organizations and the government. The window will open on February 1, 2022 and is set to close on January 31, 2024. For a guide to help survivors understand their rights during the legal process of filing a civil lawsuit under Arkansas’s revival law, click the survivor tool kit below.
CURRENT ARKANSAS CIVIL LAW
Ark. Code Ann. § 16-118-117 - Civil action for vulnerable victims of sexual abuse
Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-130 - Civil actions based on sexual abuse--Limitations period following discovery
(a) Notwithstanding any other statute of limitations or any other provision of law that can be construed to reduce the statutory period set forth in this section, any civil action based on sexual abuse which occurred when the injured person was a minor but is not discovered until after the injured person reaches the age of majority shall be brought within three (3) years from the time of discovery of the sexual abuse by the injured party.
(b)(1) A claim based on an assertion of more than one (1) act of sexual abuse is not limited to the injured party’s first discovery of the relationship between any one (1) of those acts and the injury or condition, but may be based on the injured party’s discovery of the effect of the series of acts.
(2) It is not necessary for the injured party to establish which act in a series of acts of childhood sexual abuse caused the injury or condition that is the subject of the lawsuit.
(c) For the purposes of this section:
(1) “Childhood sexual abuse” means sexual abuse which occurred when the injured person was a minor;
(2) “Minor” means a person of less than eighteen (18) years of age; and
(3) “Time of discovery” means when the injured party discovers the effect of the injury or condition attributable to the childhood sexual abuse.
Kolbek v. Twenty First Cent. Holiness Tabernacle Church, Inc., No. 10-CV-4124, 2014 WL 348592, at *2 (W.D. Ark. Jan. 31, 2014), aff’d, 576 F. App’x 647 (8th Cir. 2014) – Discovery rule only applies to perpetrators
CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL
There is currently no SOL in Arkansas for multiple crimes, including but not limited to felony rape, sex assault, incest, and exploitation. The SOL for other felonies and misdemeanors is age 28.
CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT
|No SOL||Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-109(a)(1)(D)
SEXUAL INDECENCY WITH A CHILD
|No SOL||Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-109(a)(1)(E)|
SEXUAL ASSAULT 1ST & 2ND DEGREE
|No SOL||Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-109(a)(1)(F)-(G)|
|No SOL||Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-109(a)(1)(H)|
ENGAGING CHILDREN IN SEXUALLY EXPLICIT CONDUCT FOR VISUAL OR PRINT
|No SOL||Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-109(a)(1)(I)|
TRANSPORTATION FOR SEXUAL CONDUCT
|No SOL||Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-109(a)(1)(J)|
|No SOL||Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-1-109(a)(1)(K)-(L)|
|No SOL||Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-109(a)(1)(M)|
OTHER FELONIES & MISDEMEANORS & ALL FELONIES PRE-2013
|Age 28||Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-109(2), (3)(B)(i)|
|No SOL||Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-109(b)(1)(B), (j)
Changes Since 2002:
As of 2002, Arkansas’s criminal SOL was 15 years from the offense for felony rape and for some child sex abuse felonies it was age 24 (age of majority, 18, plus 6 years) if the crime was not previously reported to police. The remaining felonies had an SOL of 6 years from the offense and 1 year for misdemeanors. In 2003, more sex abuse crimes were added to the list of offenses for which the 6-year SOL could be tolled until age 18. In 2005, Arkansas extended and then in 2009 eliminated the SOL if the perpetrator is identified by DNA evidence. In 2011, Arkansas changed the SOL for many sex abuse felonies and misdemeanors to age 28, and then eliminated the criminal SOL for felony rape, sex assault, incest, exploitation and others in 2013.
CURRENT ARKANSAS CRIMINAL LAW
Ark. Cod. Ann. § 5-1-109 - Statute of limitations
(a)(1) A prosecution for the following offenses may be commenced at any time:
(A) Capital murder, § 5-10-101;
(B) Murder in the first degree, § 5-10-102;
(C) Murder in the second degree, § 5-10-103;
(D) Rape, § 5-14-103, if the victim was a minor at the time of the offense;
(E) Sexual indecency with a child, § 5-14-110;
(F) Sexual assault in the first degree, § 5-14-124;
(G) Sexual assault in the second degree, § 5-14-125, if the victim was a minor at the time of the offense;
(H) Incest, § 5-26-202, if the victim was a minor at the time of the offense;
(I) Engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for use in visual or print medium, § 5-27-303;
(J) Transportation of minors for prohibited sexual conduct, § 5-27-305;
(K) Employing or consenting to the use of a child in a sexual performance, § 5-27-402;
(L) Producing, directing, or promoting a sexual performance by a child, § 5-27-403; and
(M) Computer exploitation of a child in the first degree, § 5-27-605.
(2) A prosecution may be commenced for a violation of the following offenses, if, when the alleged violation occurred, the offense was committed against a minor, the violation has not been previously reported to a law enforcement agency or prosecuting attorney, and the victim has not reached the age of twenty-eight (28) years of age:
(A) Sexual assault in the third degree, § 5-14-126;
(B) Sexual assault in the fourth degree, § 5-14-127;
(C) Endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree, § 5-27-205;
(D) Permitting abuse of a minor, § 5-27-221; and
(E) Computer child pornography, § 5-27-603.
(3) A prosecution for arson, § 5-38-301(a)(1)(G), may be commenced within ten (10) years after the offense was committed.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a prosecution for another offense shall be commenced within the following periods of limitation after the offense’s commission:
(1)(A) Class Y felony or Class A felony, six (6) years.
(B) However, for rape, § 5-14-103, the period of limitation is eliminated if biological evidence of the alleged perpetrator is identified that is capable of producing a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) profile;
(2)(A) Except as provided in subdivision (b)(2)(B)(i) of this section, Class B felony, Class C felony, Class D felony, or an unclassified felony, three (3) years.
(B)(i) A prosecution may be commenced for a violation of § 23-66-502 as follows:
(a) Within three (3) years of completion of the last act taken to perpetrate alleged fraud; or
(b) Within five (5) years of any alleged violation of § 23-66-502 involving a motor vehicle purposely used to cause a motor vehicle accident for the purpose of filing an insurance claim.
(ii) If a prosecution could not be commenced within the time period prescribed by subdivision (b)(2)(B)(i) of this section because it was not reasonably possible to discover the alleged fraud at the time of the violation, the time period prescribed shall be extended for a period of three (3) years.
(iii) The period of limitation under this subdivision (b)(2)(B) may not extend more than ten (10) years after the date of the violation of § 23-66-502;
(3)(A) Misdemeanor or violation, one (1) year.
(i) For failure to notify by a mandated reporter in the first degree, § 12-18-201, and failure to notify by a mandated reporter in the second degree, § 12-18-202, the period of limitation is ten (10) years after the child victim reaches eighteen (18) years of age if the child in question was subject to child maltreatment; and
(ii) For a nine-point or greater violation of an Arkansas State Game and Fish Commission regulation or rule, the period of limitation is three (3) years; and
(4) Municipal ordinance violation, one (1) year unless a different period of time not to exceed three (3) years is set by ordinance of the municipal government.
(c) If the period prescribed in subsection (b) of this section has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for:
(1) Any offense involving either fraud or breach of a fiduciary obligation, within one (1) year after the offense is discovered or should reasonably have been discovered by an aggrieved party or by a person who has a legal duty to represent an aggrieved party and who is himself or herself not a party to the offense; and
(2)(A) Any offense that is concealed involving felonious conduct in office by a public servant at any time within five (5) years after he or she leaves public office or employment or within five (5) years after the offense is discovered or should reasonably have been discovered, whichever is sooner.
(B) However, in no event does this subdivision (c)(2) extend the period of limitation by more than ten (10) years after the commission of the offense.
(d) A defendant may be convicted of any offense included in the offense charged, notwithstanding that the period of limitation has expired for the included offense, if as to the offense charged the period of limitation has not expired or there is no period of limitation, and there is sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction for the offense charged.
(e)(1) For the purposes of this section, an offense is committed either when:
(A) Every element occurs; or
(B) If a legislative purpose to prohibit a continuing course of conduct plainly appears, at the time the course of conduct or the defendant’s complicity in the course of conduct is terminated.
(2) Time starts to run on the day after the offense is committed.
(f) A prosecution is commenced when an arrest warrant or other process is issued based on an indictment, information, or other charging instrument if the arrest warrant or other process is sought to be executed without unreasonable delay.
(g) The period of limitation does not run:
(1)(A) During any time when the accused is continually absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state.
(B) However, in no event does this subdivision (g)(1) extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than three (3) years; or
(2) During any period when a prosecution against the accused for the same conduct is pending in this state.
(h) If the period prescribed in subsection (b) of this section has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for a violation of the following offenses if, when the alleged violation occurred, the offense was committed against a minor, the violation has not previously been reported to a law enforcement agency or prosecuting attorney, and the period prescribed in subsection (b) of this section has not expired since the victim has reached eighteen (18) years of age:
(1) Battery in the first degree, § 5-13-201;
(2) Battery in the second degree, § 5-13-202;
(3) Aggravated assault, § 5-13-204;
(4) Terroristic threatening in the first degree, § 5-13-301;
(5) Kidnapping, § 5-11-102;
(6) False imprisonment in the first degree, § 5-11-103;
(7) Permanent detention or restraint, § 5-11-106; and
(8) Criminal attempt, criminal solicitation, or criminal conspiracy to commit any offense listed in this subsection, §§ 5-3-201, 5-3-202, 5-3-301, and 5-3-401.
(i) If there is biological evidence connecting a person with the commission of an offense and that person’s identity is unknown, the prosecution is commenced if an indictment or information is filed against the unknown person and the indictment contains the genetic information of the unknown person and the genetic information is accepted to be likely to be applicable only to the unknown person.
(j) When deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing implicates a person previously identified through a search of the State DNA Data Base or National DNA Index System, a statute of limitation shall not preclude prosecution of the offense.
The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the Arkansas SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.
Last Updated: April 21, 2021