TEXAS

CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs

 

CURRENT CIVIL SOL

In Texas, the civil SOL for child sex abuse claims is age 48 (age of majority, 18, plus 30 years) with a very narrow discovery rule.

CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT

AGE CAP

AGE 48

DISCOVERY TOLLING

30 DAYS

REVIVAL LAW

NONE

Changes Since 2002:

Age Cap: In 2002, the civil SOL in Texas was 5 years from date of accrual, which usually meant age 23 (age of majority, 18, plus 5 years). It added to its 5-year SOL the offense of continuous sexual abuse of a child in 2007 and trafficking and prostitution in 2011.  In 2015, Texas added 10 years to its civil SOL to make it the date of accrual plus 15 years, which in most cases amounted to age 33 (age of majority, 18, plus 15 years).  In 2019, it extended the civil SOL again by another 15 years to age 48 (age of majority, 18, plus 30 years).

Discovery:  Although there is a common law discovery rule in Texas running from a victim’s discovery of abuse, it has not yet successfully tolled the SOL for sexual abuse claims. To apply the discovery rule, a court must find that “the alleged wrongful act and the resulting injury are inherently undiscoverable at the time they occurred but may be objectively verified.” Additionally, the plaintiff need only know of the abuse and the injury, and not their causal connection, before the discovery rule is triggered. In 1995, Texas added a very narrow statutory discovery rule that gives a plaintiff 30 days after “discover[ing] the identity of the defendant” to amend a previously filed petition with the court. The discovery rule applies to individual perpetrators and to institutional defendants, but not to the government.

Revival Law:  Texas has not passed a window or other SOL revival legislation since 2002.

CURRENT TEXAS CIVIL LAW

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.0045 - Limitations Period for Claims Arising from Certain Offenses

(a) A person must bring suit for personal injury not later than 30 years after the day the cause of action accrues if the injury arises as a result of conduct that violates:

(1) Section 22.011(a)(2), Penal Code (sexual assault of a child);

(2) Section 22.021(a)(1)(B), Penal Code (aggravated sexual assault of a child);

(3) Section 21.02, Penal Code (continuous sexual abuse of young child or children);

(4) Section 20A.02(a)(7)(A), (B), (C), (D), or (H) or Section 20A.02(a)(8), Penal Code, involving an activity described by Section 20A.02(a)(7)(A), (B), (C), (D), or (H) or sexual conduct with a child trafficked in the manner described by Section 20A.02(a)(7), Penal Code (certain sexual trafficking of a child);

(5) Section 43.05(a)(2), Penal Code (compelling prostitution by a child); or

(6) Section 21.11, Penal Code (indecency with a child).

(b) A person must bring suit for personal injury not later than five years after the day the cause of action accrues if the injury arises as a result of conduct that violates:

(1) Section 22.011(a)(1), Penal Code (sexual assault);

(2) Section 22.021(a)(1)(A), Penal Code (aggravated sexual assault);

(3) Section 20A.02, Penal Code (trafficking of persons), other than conduct described by Subsection (a)(4); or

(4) Section 43.05(a)(1), Penal Code (compelling prostitution).

(c) In an action for injury resulting in death arising as a result of conduct described by Subsection (a) or (b), the cause of action accrues on the death of the injured person.

(d) A limitations period under this section is tolled for a suit on the filing of a petition by any person in an appropriate court alleging that the identity of the defendant in the suit is unknown and designating the unknown defendant as “John or Jane Doe.” The person filing the petition shall proceed with due diligence to discover the identity of the defendant and amend the petition by substituting the real name of the defendant for “John or Jane Doe” not later than the 30th day after the date that the defendant is identified to the plaintiff. The limitations period begins running again on the date that the petition is amended.

Case law

S.V. v. R.V., 933 S.W.2d 1 (Tex. 1996) (Texas has found the discovery rule to apply only if “the alleged wrongful act and resulting injury were inherently undiscoverable at the time they occurred but may be objectively verified)

Marshall v. First Baptist Church, 949 S.W.2d 504, 507 (Tex. App. 1997) (holding that the discovery rule did not apply because the victim had reported the abuse and therefore had “discovered the wrongful acts”).

Doe v. Linam, 225 F. Supp. 2d 731, 735-36 (S.D. Tex. 2002) (holding that the discovery rule did not apply because the plaintiff knew both of the abuse and of his emotional and psychological problems)

Adams v. YMCA, 265 S.W.3d 915, 917-18 (Tex. 2008) (To bring a suit, it is not necessary for the victim to connect the abuse to any subsequent psychological injuries or understand the full extent of his injuries.)

Doe v. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Sch., 382 Fed. Appx. 386, 388-389,(5th Cir. Tex. 2010).

Rollins v. Pressler, No. 01-19-00460-CV, 2021 WL 726995 (Tex. App. Feb. 25, 2021) (unsound mind tolling for PTSD)

CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL

In Texas, there is no criminal SOL for most crimes and the SOL for misdemeanors is 2 years from the abuse.

CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT

OTHER FELNOIES

FELONY SEXUAL ASSAULT

NO SOL Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 12.01(1)(B)-(C)

CONTINUOUS SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD

NO SOL Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 12.01(1)(D)

SEX TRAFFICKING

NO SOL Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 12.01(1)(G)-(H)

COMPELLING PROSTITUTION

NO SOL Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 12.01(1)(I)

SEXUAL PERFORMANCE

AGE 38 Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 12.01(5)(A)

MISDEMEANORS

2 YEARS FROM OFFENSE Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 12.02

DNA SNAPSHOT

 

SEXUAL ASSAULT

NO SOL Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 12.01 (1)(C)

 Changes Since 2002:

In 2002, the criminal SOL for felonies was age 28 except if there was DNA evidence then there was no SOL.  In 2007, Texas eliminated the criminal SOLs for felony sexual assault and continuous sexual abuse of a child and extended the SOL to age 38 for sexual performance.  It eliminated the SOL for sex trafficking in 2011 and added the crime of compelling prostitution to its age 38 SOL.  Four years later, it removed the SOL for compelling prostitution too.  The SOL for misdemeanors remains 2 years from the offense and is not subject to the DNA evidence rule.

CURRENT TEXAS CRIMINAL LAW

Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 12.01 - Felonies

Except as provided in Article 12.03, felony indictments may be presented within these limits, and not afterward:

(1) no limitation:

(A) murder and manslaughter;

(B) sexual assault under Section 22.011(a)(2), Penal Code, or aggravated sexual assault under Section 22.021(a)(1)(B), Penal Code;

(C) sexual assault, if:

(i) during the investigation of the offense biological matter is collected and the matter:

(a)has not yet been subjected to forensic DNA testing; or

(b) has been subjected to forensic DNA testing and the testing results show that the matter does not match the victim or any other person whose identity is readily ascertained; or

(ii) probable cause exists to believe that the defendant has committed the same or a similar sexual offense against five or more victims;

(D) continuous sexual abuse of young child or children under Section 21.02, Penal Code;

(E) indecency with a child under Section 21.11, Penal Code;

(F) an offense involving leaving the scene of an accident under Section 550.021, Transportation Code, if the accident resulted in the death of a person;

(G) trafficking of persons under Section 20A.02(a)(7) or (8), Penal Code;

(H) continuous trafficking of persons under Section 20A.03, Penal Code; or

(I) compelling prostitution under Section 43.05(a)(2), Penal Code;

(2) ten years from the date of the commission of the offense: . . .

(E) sexual assault, except as provided by Subdivision (1);

(G) trafficking of persons under Section 20A.02(a)(1), (2), (3), or (4), Penal Code; or

(H) compelling prostitution under Section 43.05(a)(1), Penal Code;

(3) seven years from the date of the commission of the offense:

(H) exploitation of a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual under Section 32.53, Penal Code;

(4) five years from the date of the commission of the offense:

(D) abandoning or endangering a child; or . . .

(5) if the investigation of the offense shows that the victim is younger than 17 years of age at the time the offense is committed, 20 years from the 18th birthday of the victim of one of the following offenses:

(A) sexual performance by a child under Section 43.25, Penal Code;

(B) aggravated kidnapping under Section 20.04(a)(4), Penal Code, if the defendant committed the offense with the intent to violate or abuse the victim sexually; or

(C) burglary under Section 30.02, Penal Code, if the offense is punishable under Subsection (d) of that section and the defendant committed the offense with the intent to commit an offense described by Subdivision (1)(B) or (D) of this article or Paragraph (B) of this subdivision;

(6) ten years from the 18th birthday of the victim of the offense:

(A) trafficking of persons under Section 20A.02(a)(5) or (6), Penal Code;

(B) injury to a child under Section 22.04, Penal Code; or

(C) bigamy under Section 25.01, Penal Code, if the investigation of the offense shows that the person, other than the legal spouse of the defendant, whom the defendant marries or purports to marry or with whom the defendant lives under the appearance of being married is younger than 18 years of age at the time the offense is committed; or

(7) two years from the date the offense was discovered: sexual assault punishable as a state jail felony under Section 22.011(f)(2), Penal Code; or

(8) three years from the date of the commission of the offense: all other felonies.

Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 12.02 - Misdemeanors

(a) An indictment or information for any Class A or Class B misdemeanor may be presented within two years from the date of the commission of the offense, and not afterward.

(b) A complaint or information for any Class C misdemeanor may be presented within two years from the date of the commission of the offense, and not afterward.

Case Law

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

Last Updated: April 21, 2021

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