CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs
CURRENT CIVIL SOL
In New Hampshire, there is no civil SOL for incest and sexual assault of a minor, and an SOL of age 30 with a 3-year discovery rule for other claims.
CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT
NONE for incest and sexual assault of minors
AGE 30 for others
Changes Since 2002:
Age Cap: The civil SOL in New Hampshire in 2002 was age 21 (age of majority, 18, plus 3 years). In 2005, it was extended to age 25 (age of majority, 18, plus 7 years). In 2008, the age again was extended, this time to age 30 (age of majority, 18, plus 12 years). In 2020, New Hampshire eliminated its civil SOL for incest and sexual assault of a minor.
Discovery: In 1994, New Hampshire recognized that its common law discovery rule was applicable to claims of child sex abuse and the SOL is tolled until “‘the plaintiff discovers, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have discovered both the fact of [her] injury and the cause thereof.’” Claims arising prior to 1986 benefit from a 6-year common law discovery rule that was previously in effect. New Hampshire codified its common law discovery rule in 1986 with a general 3-year discovery statute for personal injury actions that applies to claims for abuse that occurred after the statute went into effect. In 2005, New Hampshire recodified its 3-year discovery rule with a specialized child sex abuse statute. Pursuant to the statute, the discovery rule applies to a claim if “the injury and its causal relationship to the act or omission” were not reasonably discovered until later. The common law and statutory discovery rules are applicable to claims against all types of defendants. In 2020, New Hampshire did away with its statutory discovery rule when it removed its civil SOL.
Revival Law: New Hampshire has not passed a window or other SOL revival legislation since 2002.
CURRENT NEW HAMPSHIRE CIVIL LAW
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508:4-g - Actions Based on Sexual Assault and Related Offenses.
A person, alleging to have been subjected to any offense under RSA 632-A or an offense under RSA 639:2 may commence a personal action at any time.
Conrad v. Hazen, 140 N.H. 249, 252 (1995). The New Hampshire Supreme Court held that when the legislature amended § 508:4—the general tort statute of limitations—to reduce the limitations period from six to three years, the change was prospective and left intact the six-year statute of limitations (including the accrual discovery rule) for causes of action arising prior to July 1, 1986.
CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL
In New Hampshire, the criminal SOL for felony sex abuse and incest is capped at age 40 (age of majority, 18, plus 22 years) and sex trafficking at age 38 (age of majority, 18, plus 20 years). For all other felony crimes the SOL is age 24 (age of majority, 18, plus six years) and for all misdemeanors age 19 (age of majority, 18, plus one year).
CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT
FELONY SEX ASSAULT
|Age 40||N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 625:8(III)(d)
|Age 40||N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 625:8(III)(d)|
|Age 38||N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 625:8(III)(i)|
|Age 24||N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 625:8(I)(a)-(b)|
|Age 19||N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 625:8(I)(c)|
NO DNA STATUTE
Changes Since 2002:
In 1990, New Hampshire set the SOL for felony sex abuse at age 40 (age of majority, 18, plus 22 years). In 2000, incest was added to the list of felonies with an SOL of age 40. In 2014, the SOL for trafficking in persons was extended to age 38 (age of majority, 18, plus 20 years). The SOL for all other felony crimes is age 24 and age 19 for all misdemeanors. New Hampshire is still one of only 8 states that has not eliminated the SOL for any felony crimes.
CURRENT NEW HAMPSHIRE CRIMINAL LAW
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 625:8 - Limitations
I. Except as otherwise provided in this section, prosecutions are subject to the following periods of limitations:
(a) For a class A felony, 6 years;
(b) For a class B felony, 6 years;
(c) For a misdemeanor, one year;
(d) For a violation, 3 months.
(e) For an offense defined by RSA 282-A, 6 years.
(f) For an offense defined in RSA 638:1, III-a, 2 years.
II. Murder may be prosecuted at any time.
III. If the period prescribed in paragraph I has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced:
(a) Within one year after its discovery by an aggrieved party or by a person who has a duty to represent such person and who is himself not a party to the offense for a theft where possession of the property was lawfully obtained and subsequently misappropriated or for any offense, a material element of which is either fraud or a breach of fiduciary duty.
(b) For any offense based upon misconduct in office by a public servant, at any time when the defendant is in public office or within 2 years thereafter.
(c) For any offense under RSA 208, RSA 210, or RSA 215, within 3 years thereafter.
(d) For any offense under RSA 632-A or for an offense under RSA 639:2, where the victim was under 18 years of age when the alleged offense occurred, within 22 years of the victim’s eighteenth birthday.
(e) For any offense where destruction or falsification of evidence, witness tampering, or other unlawful conduct delayed discovery of the offense, within one year of the discovery of the offense.
(f) For any offense under RSA 153:24 and RSA 153:5, the state fire code, within one year of its discovery.
(g) For any offense under RSA 641:1 through 641:7, if committed with the purpose to assist in a murder, to conceal a murder, or to conceal or hinder the investigation or apprehension of an individual responsible for murder, at any time.
(h) For any violation-level offense involving a motor vehicle accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury, within 6 months of the accident.
(i) For any offense under RSA 633:7, within 20 years, except where the victim was under 18 years of age when the alleged offense occurred, in which case within 20 years of the victim’s eighteenth birthday.
IV. Time begins to run on the day after all elements of an offense have occurred or, in the case of an offense comprised of a continuous course of conduct, on the day after that conduct or the defendant’s complicity therein terminates.
V. A prosecution is commenced on the day when a warrant or other process is issued, an indictment returned, or an information is filed, whichever is the earliest.
VI. The period of limitations does not run:
(a) During any time when the accused is continuously absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertained place of abode or work within this state; or
(b) During any time when a prosecution is pending against the accused in this state based on the same conduct.
The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the New Hampshire SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.
Last Updated: April 21, 2021