HAWAII

CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs

CURRENT CIVIL SOL

Summary: The civil SOL is age twenty-six or three years from discovery against perpetrators and age twenty or two years from discovery against other defendants.

CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT

AGE CAP

AGE 26 AGAINST PERPETRATOR FOR CSA

AGE 20 AGAINST OTHER DEFENDANTS FOR CSA

AGE 24 FOR SEX TRAFFICKING

REVIVAL LAW

2-YEAR WINDOW (CLOSED 4/23/14)

2-YEAR WINDOW (CLOSED 4/23/16)

2-YEAR WINDOW (CLOSED 4/23/20)

DISCOVERY TOLLING

3 YEARS AGAINST PERPETRATOR

2 YEARS AGAINST OTHER DEFENDANTS

 

Changes Since 2002:

Age Cap

2002

Age 20 (age of majority, 18, plus 2 years) with a 2-year discovery rule.[i]

2012

Extended its SOL to age 26 (age of majority, 18, plus 8 years) for claims against perpetrators.[ii] 

2013

Extended its SOL to age 24 (age of majority, 18, plus 6 years) for sex trafficking claims.[iii]

 

Revival Law

2012

Enacted a 2-year window for previously expired CSA claims against a perpetrator or entity that employed the person accused and had a duty of care to the child from April 24, 2012 until April 23, 2014.[iv]

2014

Added another 2 years to its window and broadened its revival to explicitly include claims against the government, leaving the window open until April 23, 2016.[v]

2018

Added another 2-year extension to its window, leaving it open for a total of 6 years until April 23, 2020.[vi]

 

Discovery

Common Law

In 1996, Hawaii recognized a common law discovery rule, which tolls the 2-year SOL from running until a victim is aware of her injuries and the “causal link” to the CSA.[vii] 

Statutory

In 2012, Hawaii added a statutory 3-year discovery rule for claims against perpetrators only, which is triggered by the victim’s reasonable discovery that “psychological injury or illness occurring after the minor’s eighteenth birthday was caused by the sexual abuse.”[viii] 

 
[i] Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 657-7 (2002) (two-year SOL), 657-13 (2002) (minority tolling); Dunlea v. Dappen, 924 P.2d 196, 204 (Haw. 1996), abrogated by Hac v. University of Haw., 73 P.3d 46 (Haw. 2003) (recognizing a discovery rule for CSA claims).
[ii] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8 (2012) (age 26 SOL).
[iii] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 663J-7 (2013).
[iv] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8 (2012) (two-year window); S.B. 2588, 2012 Gen. Assemb. Reg. Sess. (Haw. 2012).
[v] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8 (2014) (two-year window); SB 2687, 2014 Gen. Assemb. Reg Sess. (Haw. 2014).
[vi] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8 (2018) (eight-year window); 2018 Haw. Sess. Laws 98 (S.B. 2719). See also Relating to Limitation of Actions For Sexual Assault: Hearing on H.B. 415 Before the H. Comm. On Jud. and Lab., 29th Cong. (2017) (statement of Professor Marci Hamilton regarding Hawaii proposed 2018 amendments to CSA SOLs). https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2018/testimony/HB415_TESTIMONY_JUD_02-07-17_.PDF.
[vii] Dunlea, supra note 253.
[viii] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8(a).

CURRENT HAWAII CIVIL LAW

Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-7 - Damage to persons or property

Actions for the recovery of compensation for damage or injury to persons or property shall be instituted within two years after the cause of action accrued, and not after, except as provided in section 657-13.

Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-1.8 - Civil action arising from sexual offenses; application; certificate of merit

(a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, except as provided under subsection (b), no action for recovery of damages based on physical, psychological, or other injury or condition suffered by a minor arising from the sexual abuse of the minor by any person shall be commenced against the person who committed the act of sexual abuse more than:

(1) Eight years after the eighteenth birthday of the minor or the person who committed the act of sexual abuse attains the age of majority, whichever occurs later; or

(2) Three years after the date the minor discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the minor’s eighteenth birthday was caused by the sexual abuse,whichever comes later.

A civil cause of action for the sexual abuse of a minor shall be based upon sexual acts that constituted or would have constituted a criminal offense under part V or VI of chapter 707.

(b) For a period of eight years after April 24, 2012, a victim of child sexual abuse that occurred in this State may file a claim in a circuit court of this State against the person who committed the act of sexual abuse if the victim is barred from filing a claim against the victim’s abuser due to the expiration of the applicable civil statute of limitations that was in effect prior to April 24, 2012.

A claim may also be brought under this subsection against a legal entity if:

(1) The person who committed the act of sexual abuse against the victim was employed by an institution, agency, firm, business, corporation, or other public or private legal entity that owed a duty of care to the victim; or

(2) The person who committed the act of sexual abuse and the victim were engaged in an activity over which the legal entity had a degree of responsibility or control.

Damages against the legal entity shall be awarded under this subsection only if there is a finding of gross negligence on the part of the legal entity.

(c) A defendant against whom a civil action is commenced may recover attorney’s fees if the court determines that a false accusation was made with no basis in fact and with malicious intent. A verdict in favor of the defendant shall not be the sole basis for a determination that an accusation had no basis in fact and was made with malicious intent. The court shall make an independent finding of an improper motive prior to awarding attorney’s fees under this section.

(d) In any civil action filed pursuant to subsection (a) or (b), a certificate of merit shall be filed by the attorney for the plaintiff, and shall be sealed and remain confidential. The certificate of merit shall include a notarized statement by a:

(1) Psychologist licensed pursuant to chapter 465;

(2) Marriage and family therapist licensed pursuant to chapter 451J;

(3) Mental health counselor licensed pursuant to chapter 453D; or

(4) Clinical social worker licensed pursuant to chapter 467E;

who is knowledgeable in the relevant facts and issues involved in the action, who is not a party to the action.

The notarized statement included in the certificate of merit shall set forth in reasonable detail the facts and opinions relied upon to conclude that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the plaintiff was subject to one or more acts that would result in an injury or condition specified in [subsection] (a).

Rev. Stat. § 657-13 - Infancy, insanity, imprisonment

If any person entitled to bring any action specified in this part (excepting actions against the sheriff, chief of police, or other officers) is, at the time the cause of action accrued, either:

(1) Within the age of eighteen years;

(2) Insane; or

(3) Imprisoned on a criminal charge, or in execution under the sentence of a criminal court for a term less than the person’s natural life;

such person shall be at liberty to bring such actions within the respective times limited in this part, after the disability is removed or at any time while the disability exists.

Case law

Dunlea v. Dappen, 924 P.2d 196, 204 (Haw. 1996), abrogated by Hac v. Univ. of Hawaii, 73 P.3d 46 (Haw. 2003) (recognizing a common law discovery rule for child sex abuse claims)

CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL

Summary: There is no SOL for some sexual assault felonies, including sex trafficking, and an SOL of ages twenty-one and twenty-four for other felonies, and two years from the offense for misdemeanors.

CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT

SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE FIRST AND SECOND DEGREES

NO SOL

SEX TRAFFICKING

NO SOL

 

Changes Since 2002:

Age Cap

2002

The criminal SOL was age 24 (age of majority, 18, plus 6 years) for Class A felony sex offenses, and age 21 (age of majority, 18, plus 3 years) for all other felony sex offenses. The SOL for misdemeanors was 2 years from the offense.[i]

2005

Added a provision that if DNA evidence was collected, the SOL for felonies was extended to 10 years after the applicable SOL would have expired.[ii]

2014

Eliminated the SOL for felony first and second-degree sexual assault, and continuous sexual assault of a minor under age 14.[iii]

2021

Eliminated the SOL for felony sex trafficking of minors and adults.[iv]

 
[i] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 701-108 (2002) (SOL).
[ii] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 701-108 (2005) (SOL).
[iii] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 701-108 (2014) (SOL).
[iv] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 701-108 (2021) (SOL); 2021 Haw. Sess. Laws 68 (H.B. 887).

CURRENT HAWAII CRIMINAL LAW

Haw. Rev. Stat. § 701-108 - Time Limitations

(1) A prosecution for murder, murder in the first and second degrees, attempted murder, and attempted murder in the first and second degrees, criminal conspiracy to commit murder in any degree, criminal solicitation to commit murder in any degree, sexual assault in the first and second degrees, and continuous sexual assault of a minor under the age of fourteen years may be commenced at any time.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, prosecutions for other offenses are subject to the following periods of limitation:

(a) A prosecution for manslaughter where the death was not caused by the operation of a motor vehicle must be commenced within ten years after it is committed;

(b) A prosecution for a class A felony must be commenced within six years after it is committed;

(c) A prosecution for any felony under part IX of chapter 708 must be commenced within five years after it is committed;

(d) A prosecution for any other felony must be commenced within three years after it is committed;

(e) A prosecution for a misdemeanor or parking violation must be commenced within two years after it is committed; and

(f) A prosecution for a petty misdemeanor or a violation other than a parking violation must be commenced within one year after it is committed.

(3) If the period prescribed in subsection (2) has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for:

(a) Any offense an element of which is fraud, deception as defined in section 708-800, or a breach of fiduciary obligation or the offense of medical assistance fraud under section 346-43.5, within three years after discovery of the offense by an aggrieved party or by a person who has a legal duty to represent an aggrieved party and who is oneself not a party to the offense, but in no case shall this provision extend the period of limitation by more than six years from the expiration of the period of limitation prescribed in subsection (2);

(b) Any offense based on misconduct in office by a public officer or employee at any time when the defendant is in public office or employment or within two years thereafter, but in no case shall this provision extend the period of limitation by more than three years from the expiration of the period of limitation prescribed in subsection (2); and

 

(c) Any felony offense involving evidence containing deoxyribonucleic acid from the offender, if a test confirming the presence of deoxyribonucleic acid is performed prior to expiration of the period of limitation prescribed in subsection (2), but in no case shall this provision extend the period of limitation by more than ten years from the expiration of the period of limitation prescribed in subsection (2).

(4) An offense is committed either when every element occurs, or, if a legislative purpose to prohibit a continuing course of conduct plainly appears, at the time when the course of conduct or the defendant’s complicity therein is terminated. Time starts to run on the day after the offense is committed.

(5) A prosecution is commenced either when an indictment is found or a complaint filed, or when an arrest warrant or other process is issued, provided that such warrant or process is executed without unreasonable delay.

(6) The period of limitation does not run:

(a) During any time when the accused is continuously absent from the State or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the State, but in no case shall this provision extend the period of limitation by more than four years from the expiration of the period of limitation prescribed in subsection (2);

(b) During any time when a prosecution against the accused for the same conduct is pending in this State; or

(c) For any felony offense under chapter 707, part V or VI, during any time when the victim is alive and under eighteen years of age.

Case Law

The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the Hawaii SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.

Last Updated: June 28, 2022

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