NEW JERSEY

CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs

CURRENT CIVIL SOL

In New Jersey, the civil SOL for child sex abuse is capped at age 55. There is also a discovery rule, which allows victims up to 7 years to file a claim after discovering an injury caused by the abuse. A 2-year revival window is now open and previously expired claims against any type of defendant can be filed until November 30, 2021.

CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT

AGE CAP

AGE 55

DISCOVERY TOLLING

7 YEARS

REVIVAL LAW

2-YEAR WINDOW (CLOSES 11/30/21)

REVIVAL UP TO AGE 55

Changes Since 2002:

Age Cap: New Jersey’s prior civil SOL dated back to 1992, and capped claims at age 20 (age of majority, 18, plus 2 years).  In 2019, New Jersey amended its extremely short SOL and  extended it to age 55.

Discovery:  New Jersey recognizes a discovery rule that runs “when the injured party discovers, or by an exercise of reasonable diligence and intelligence should have discovered that he may have a basis for an actionable claim.” In 1992, New Jersey enacted a statutory discovery rule allowing a victim of childhood sexual abuse to bring a claim two years after “discovery of the injury and its causal relationship to the act of sexual abuse.” The discovery is to be made from the perspective of a child sex abuse victim, not an ordinary observer. The discovery rule did not apply in cases where the victims “were too traumatized, embarrassed, and ashamed of the sexual abuse directed at them to discuss the events with family or friends.” In 2019, New Jersey extended the rule to 7 years from discovery, even if a victim’s claims have previously expired. The statutory discovery rule applies to individual perpetrators and non-perpetrators.

Revival Law:  In 2019, New Jersey opened a 2-year revival window for previously expired child sex abuse claims against perpetrators, other individuals, private organizations and the government. The window opened on December 1, 2019 and closes November 30, 2021, and applies to child sex abuse victims and those sexually assaulted as adults. Child sex abuse claims are revived for all survivors up until they reach age 55, even after the window closes. For a guide to help survivors understand their rights during the legal process of filing a civil lawsuit under New Jersey’s revival law, click the survivor tool kit below.

CURRENT NEW JERSEY CIVIL LAW

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-2a. - Statute of limitations on crimes of a sexual nature committed against a minor occurring after December 1, 2019

a. (1) Every action at law for an injury resulting from the commission of sexual assault, any other crime of a sexual nature, a prohibited sexual act as defined in section 2 of P.L.1992, c. 7 (C.2A:30B-2), or sexual abuse as defined in section 1 of P.L.1992, c. 109 (C.2A:61B-1) against a minor under the age of 18 that occurred prior to, on or after the effective date of P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.)1 shall be commenced within 37 years after the minor reaches the age of majority, or within seven years from the date of reasonable discovery of the injury and its causal relationship to the act, whichever date is later.

(2) To the extent applicable, any action for an injury that occurred prior to the effective date of P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.) shall be subject to the provisions of subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.1959, c. 90 (C.2A:53A-7) and P.L.2005, c. 264 (C.2A:53A-7.4 et seq.), as amended by P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.).

b. (1) Every action at law for an injury resulting from the commission of sexual assault or any other crime of a sexual nature against a person 18 years of age or older that occurred prior to, on or after the effective date of P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.) shall be commenced within seven years from the date of reasonable discovery of the injury and its causal relationship to the act.

(2) To the extent applicable, any action for an injury that occurred prior to the effective date of P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.) shall be subject to the provisions of subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.1959, c. 90 (C.2A:53A-7), as amended by P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.).

Nothing in this section is intended to preclude the court from finding that the statute of limitations was tolled in an action because of the plaintiff’s mental state, physical or mental disability, duress by the defendant, or any other equitable grounds. Such a finding shall be made after a plenary hearing. The court may order an independent psychiatric evaluation of the plaintiff in order to assist in the determination as to whether the statute of limitations was tolled.

c. (1) Every action at law for an injury that is commenced pursuant to this section shall proceed on an individual basis, and not proceed on behalf of a class in a class action, due to the particular circumstances, source of injury and its discovery, and damages relating to each occurrence or occurrences of sexual assault, any other crime of a sexual nature, a prohibited sexual act as defined in section 2 of P.L.1992, c. 7 (C.2A:30B-2), or sexual abuse as defined in section 1 of P.L.1992, c. 109 (C.2A:61B-1) against either a minor under the age of 18 or a person 18 years of age or older.

(2) Any private, contractual arrangement intending to settle claims for occurrences described in paragraph (1) of this subsection on a class basis is against public policy and shall be void and unenforceable.

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-2b. - Extension of statute of limitations for injuries resulting from a crime of a sexual nature

a. Notwithstanding the statute of limitations provisions of N.J.S.2A:14-2, section 2 of P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a), section 1 of P.L.1964, c. 214 (C.2A:14-2.1), or any other statute, an action at law for an injury resulting from the commission of sexual assault, any other crime of a sexual nature, a prohibited sexual act as defined in section 2 of P.L.1992, c. 7 (C.2A:30B-2), or sexual abuse as defined in section 1 of P.L.1992, c. 109 (C.2A:61B-1), that occurred prior to the effective date of P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.), and which action would otherwise be barred through application of the statute of limitations, may be commenced within two years immediately following the effective date.

b. To the extent applicable, any action brought during the two-year period pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall be subject to the provisions of subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.1959, c. 90 (C.2A:53A-7) and P.L.2005, c. 264 (C.2A:53A-7.4 et seq.), as amended by P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.).

c. (1) Every action at law for an injury that is commenced pursuant to this section shall proceed on an individual basis, and not proceed on behalf of a class in a class action, due to the particular circumstances, source of injury and its discovery, and damages relating to each occurrence or occurrences of sexual assault, any other crime of a sexual nature, a prohibited sexual act as defined in section 2 of P.L.1992, c. 7 (C.2A:30B-2), or sexual abuse as defined in section 1 of P.L.1992, c. 109 (C.2A:61B-1) against either a minor under the age of 18 or a person 18 years of age or older.

(2) Any private, contractual arrangement intending to settle claims for occurrences described in paragraph (1) of this subsection on a class basis is against public policy and shall be void and unenforceable.

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:53A-7.5. Prospective application; statute of limitations

a. The provisions of this supplementary act, P.L.2005, c. 264 (C.2A:53A-7.4 et seq.), shall apply prospectively and also shall be applicable to all civil actions for which the statute of limitations has not expired as of the effective date of this act, and subsequently, not expired as of the effective date of P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.),1 including the statute of limitations set forth in N.J.S.2A:14-2, section 2 of P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a), section 1 of P.L.1964, c. 214 (C.2A:14-2.1), or any other statute. These applicable actions include but are not limited to matters filed with a court that have not yet been dismissed or finally adjudicated as of the effective date of this act2 or P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.).

b. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, the provisions of P.L.2005, c. 264 (C.2A:53A-7.4 et seq.) shall apply to all civil actions for an injury resulting from an act that occurred prior to the effective date of P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a et al.), and these actions shall be subject to the statute of limitations set forth in section 2 of P.L.2019, c. 120 (C.2A:14-2a).

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:53A-7. - Nonprofit corporations and associations organized for religious, charitable or educational purposes; liability for negligence

a. No nonprofit corporation, society or association organized exclusively for religious, charitable or educational purposes or its trustees, directors, officers, employees, agents, servants or volunteers shall, except as is hereinafter set forth, be liable to respond in damages to any person who shall suffer damage from the negligence of any agent or servant of such corporation, society or association, where such person is a beneficiary, to whatever degree, of the works of such nonprofit corporation, society or association; provided, however, that such immunity from liability shall not extend to any person who shall suffer damage from the negligence of such corporation, society, or association or of its agents or servants where such person is one unconcerned in and unrelated to and outside of the benefactions of such corporation, society or association.

Nothing in this subsection shall be deemed to grant immunity to any health care provider, in the practice of his profession, who is a compensated employee, agent or servant of any nonprofit corporation, society or association organized exclusively for religious, charitable or educational purposes.

b. No nonprofit corporation, society or association organized exclusively for hospital purposes or its trustees, directors, officers or volunteers shall, except as is hereinafter set forth, be liable to respond in damages to any person who shall suffer damage from the negligence of any agent or servant of such corporation, society or association, where such person is a beneficiary, to whatever degree, of the works of such nonprofit corporation, society or association; provided, however, that such immunity from liability shall not extend to any person who shall suffer damage from the negligence of such corporation, society, or association or of its agents or servants where such person is one unconcerned in and unrelated to and outside of the benefactions of such corporation, society or association; but nothing herein contained shall be deemed to exempt the agent, employee or servant individually from their liability for any such negligence.

c. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to grant immunity to: (1) any nonprofit corporation, society or association organized exclusively for religious, charitable, educational or hospital purposes, or its trustee, director, officer, employee, agent, servant or volunteer, causing damage by a willful, wanton or grossly negligent act of commission or omission, including sexual assault , any other crime of a sexual nature, a prohibited sexual act as defined in section 2 of P.L.1992, c. 7 (C.2A:30B-2), or sexual abuse as defined in section 1 of P.L.1992, c. 109 (C.2A:61B-1); (2) any trustee, director, officer, employee, agent, servant or volunteer causing damage as the result of the negligent operation of a motor vehicle; or (3) an independent contractor of a nonprofit corporation, society or association organized exclusively for religious, charitable, educational or hospital purposes.

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:61B-1 - Definitions; civil remedy; period of limitations; evidence; closed circuit testimony; confidentiality; in camera proceedings; damages

(a) As used in this act:

(1) “Sexual abuse” means an act of sexual contact or sexual penetration between a child under the age of 18 years and an adult. A parent, resource family parent, guardian or other person standing in loco parentis within the household who knowingly permits or acquiesces in sexual abuse by any other person also commits sexual abuse, except that it is an affirmative defense if the parent, resource family parent, guardian or other person standing in loco parentis was subjected to, or placed in, reasonable fear of physical or sexual abuse by the other person so as to undermine the person’s ability to protect the child.

(2) “Sexual contact” means an intentional touching by the victim or actor, either directly or through clothing, of the victim’s or actor’s intimate parts for the purpose of sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the actor. Sexual contact of the adult with himself must be in view of the victim whom the adult knows to be present.

(3) “Sexual penetration” means vaginal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or insertion of the hand, finger or object into the anus or vagina either by the adult or upon the adult’s instruction.

(4)“Intimate parts” means the following body parts: sexual organs, genital area, anal area, inner thigh, groin, buttock or breast of a person.

(5) “Injury or illness” includes psychological injury or illness, whether or not accompanied by physical injury or illness.

(b) In any civil action for injury or illness based on sexual abuse, the cause of action shall accrue at the time of reasonable discovery of the injury and its causal relationship to the act of sexual abuse. Any such action shall be brought within two years after reasonable discovery.

(c) Nothing in this act is intended to preclude the court from finding that the statute of limitations was tolled in a case because of the plaintiff’s mental state, duress by the defendant, or any other equitable grounds. Such a finding shall be made after a plenary hearing. At the plenary hearing the court shall hear all credible evidence and the Rules of Evidence shall not apply, except for Rule 403 or a valid claim of privilege. The court may order an independent psychiatric evaluation of the plaintiff in order to assist in the determination as to whether the statute of limitations was tolled.

(d) (1) Evidence of the victim’s previous sexual conduct shall not be admitted nor reference made to it in the presence of a jury except as provided in this subsection. When the defendant seeks to admit such evidence for any purpose, the defendant must apply for an order of the court before the trial or preliminary hearing, except that the court may allow the motion to be made during trial if the court determines that the evidence is newly discovered and could not have been obtained earlier through the exercise of due diligence. After the application is made, the court shall conduct a hearing in camera to determine the admissibility of the evidence. If the court finds that evidence offered by the defendant regarding the sexual conduct of the victim is relevant and that the probative value of the evidence offered is not outweighed by its collateral nature or by the probability that its admission will create undue prejudice, confusion of the issues, or unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the victim, the court shall enter an order setting forth with specificity what evidence may be introduced and the nature of the questions which shall be permitted, and the reasons why the court finds that such evidence satisfies the standards contained in this section. The defendant may then offer evidence under the order of the court.

(2) In the absence of clear and convincing proof to the contrary, evidence of the victim’s sexual conduct occurring more than one year before the date of the offense charged is presumed to be inadmissible under this section.

(3) Evidence of the victim’s previous sexual conduct shall not be considered relevant unless it is material to proving that the source of semen, pregnancy or disease is a person other than the defendant. For the purposes of this subsection, “sexual conduct” shall mean any conduct or behavior relating to sexual activities of the victim, including but not limited to previous or subsequent experience of sexual penetration or sexual contact, use of contraceptives, living arrangement and life style.

(e) (1) The court may, on motion and after conducting a hearing in camera, order the taking of the testimony of a victim on closed circuit television at the trial, out of the view of the jury, defendant, or spectators upon making findings as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection.

(2) An order under this section may be made only if the court finds that the victim is 16 years of age or younger and that there is a substantial likelihood that the victim would suffer severe emotional or mental distress if required to testify in open court. The order shall be specific as to whether the victim will testify outside the presence of spectators, the defendant, the jury, or all of them and shall be based on specific findings relating to the impact of the presence of each.

(3) A motion seeking closed circuit testimony under paragraph (1) of this subsection may be filed by:

(a) The victim or the victim’s attorney, parent or legal guardian;

(b) The defendant or the defendant’s counsel; or

(c) The trial judge on the judge’s own motion.

(4) The defendant’s counsel shall be present at the taking of testimony in camera. If the defendant is not present, he and his attorney shall be able to confer privately with each other during the testimony by a separate audio system.

(5) If testimony is taken on closed circuit television pursuant to the provisions of this act, a stenographic recording of that testimony shall also be required. A typewritten transcript of that testimony shall be included in the record on appeal. The closed circuit testimony itself shall not constitute part of the record on appeal except on motion for good cause shown.

(f) (1) The name, address, and identity of a victim or a defendant shall not appear on the complaint or any other public record as defined in P.L.1963, c. 73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.). In their place initials or a fictitious name shall appear.

(2) Any report, statement, photograph, court document, complaint or any other public record which states the name, address and identity of a victim shall be confidential and unavailable to the public.

(3) The information described in this subsection shall remain confidential and unavailable to the public unless the victim consents to the disclosure or if the court, after a hearing, determines that good cause exists for the disclosure. The hearing shall be held after notice has been made to the victim and to the defendant and the defendant’s counsel.

(4) Nothing contained herein shall prohibit the court from imposing further restrictions with regard to the disclosure of the name, address, and identity of the victim when it deems it necessary to prevent trauma or stigma to the victim.

(g) In accordance with R.5:3-2 of the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey, the court may, on its own or a party’s motion, direct that any proceeding or portion of a proceeding involving a victim sixteen years of age or younger be conducted in camera.

(h) A plaintiff who prevails in a civil action pursuant to this act shall be awarded damages in the amount of $10,000, plus reasonable attorney’s fees, or actual damages, whichever is greater. Actual damages shall consist of compensatory and punitive damages and costs of suit, including reasonable attorney’s fees. Compensatory damages may include, but are not limited to, damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, emotional trauma, diminished childhood, diminished enjoyment of life, costs of counseling, and lost wages.

Case law

R.L. v. Kenneth Voytac, 199 N.J. 285 (2009): The plain words of the Child Sexual Abuse Act (CSAA) identify two events that must occur before a cause of action may accrue: the reasonable discovery of both (1) the existence of the injury and (2) the causal relationship of that injury to the acts of sexual abuse. (Discovery Rule)

CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL

In New Jersey, there is no criminal SOL for felony or aggravated sexual assault. The criminal SOL is capped at age 23 (age of majority, 18, plus five years) or two years following discovery of aggravated criminal sexual conduct, criminal sexual conduct and endangering welfare of children. Identifying a perpetrator with DNA evidence tolls the applicable SOL.

CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT

OTHER FELNOIES

FELONIOUS SEXUAL ASSAULT

No SOL N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:1-6(a)(1)

CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT

Age 23, or 2 years after discovery N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:1-6(b)(4)

ENDANGERING WELFARE OF A CHILD

Age 23, or 2 years after discovery N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:1-6(b)(4)

OTHER FELONIES

5 years from offense N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:1-6(b)(1)

MISDEMEANORS

1 year from offense N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:1-6(b)(2)

DNA SNAPSHOT

 

FELONIES

Tolls applicable SOL N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:1-6(c)

MISDEMEANOR

Tolls applicable SOL N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:1-6(c)

Changes Since 2002:

Since 2001, New Jersey’s criminal SOL has been eliminated for felonious sexual assault. Felony criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child are subject to an SOL of age 23 (age of majority, 18, plus 5 years) or 2 years following discovery of the abuse.  Remaining felonies have an SOL of 5 years and misdemeanors 1 year, and run from when the offense is committed.  However, if the identity of the perpetrator is supported by DNA or fingerprint testing, the SOL for prosecution of any crimes does not begin to run until the State is in possession of both the physical evidence and the DNA or fingerprint evidence that identifies the perpetrator.

CURRENT NEW JERSEY CRIMINAL LAW

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:1-6. - Time limitations

Time Limitations. a. (1) A prosecution for any offense set forth in N.J.S.2C:11-3, N.J.S.2C:11-4, N.J.S.2C:14-2 or sections 1 through 5 of P.L.2002, c. 26 (C.2C:38-1 through C.2C:38-5) may be commenced at any time.

(2) A prosecution for any offense set forth in N.J.S.2C:17-2, section 9 of P.L.1970, c. 39 (C.13:1E-9), section 20 of P.L.1989, c. 34 (C.13:1E-48.20), section 19 of P.L.1954, c. 212 (C.26:2C-19), section 10 of P.L.1984, c. 173 (C.34:5A-41), or section 10 of P.L.1977, c. 74 (C.58:10A-10) may be commenced at any time.

b. Except as otherwise provided in this section, prosecutions for other offenses are subject to the following periods of limitations:

(1) A prosecution for a crime must be commenced within five years after it is committed;

(2) A prosecution for a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense must be commenced within one year after it is committed;

(3) A prosecution for any offense set forth in N.J.S.2C:27-2, N.J.S.2C:27-4, N.J.S.2C:27-6, N.J.S.2C:27-7, N.J.S.2C:29-4, N.J.S.2C:30-2, N. J.S.2C:30-3, or any attempt or conspiracy to commit such an offense, must be commenced within seven years after the commission of the offense;

(4) A prosecution for an offense set forth in N.J.S.2C:14-3 or N.J.S.2C:24-4, when the victim at the time of the offense is below the age of 18 years, must be commenced within five years of the victim’s attaining the age of 18 or within two years of the discovery of the offense by the victim, whichever is later;

(5) (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c. 131).

c. 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, except that when the prosecution is supported by physical evidence that identifies the actor by means of DNA testing or fingerprint analysis, time does not start to run until the State is in possession of both the physical evidence and the DNA or fingerprint evidence necessary to establish the identification of the actor by means of comparison to the physical evidence.

d. A prosecution is commenced for a crime when an indictment is found and for a nonindictable offense when a warrant or other process is issued, provided that such warrant or process is executed without unreasonable delay. Nothing contained in this section, however, shall be deemed to prohibit the downgrading of an offense at any time if the prosecution of the greater offense was commenced within the statute of limitations applicable to the greater offense.

e. The period of limitation does not run during any time when a prosecution against the accused for the same conduct is pending in this State.

f. The limitations in this section shall not apply to any person fleeing from justice.

g. Except as otherwise provided in this code, no civil action shall be brought pursuant to this code more than five years after such action accrues.

Case Law

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

Last Updated: April 21, 2021

IT'S EASY TO DONATE TO CHILD USA

                                               

CONTACT US

info@childusa.org

215.539.1906

3508 Market Street

Suite 202

Philadelphia, PA 19104

 

 

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: CHILD USA, 3508 MARKET STREET, Philadelphia, PA, 19104. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact