When a crime is committed, there is a window of time that a state has to charge the perpetrator. The laws that determine this time frame are called criminal statutes of limitations. As high-profile cases of sexual violence continue to make headlines—and as survivors seek to report crimes—it can help to have a better understanding of these laws and how they vary. Each state has statutes of limitations that determine the amount of time the state has to charge someone with a crime. You can think of a statute of limitations like a timer: the clock typically starts when the crime occurs; after time runs out, a perpetrator cannot be charged for the crime.
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Mike DeWine and other leaders have said it needs to be abolished. The bills would also eliminate spousal exemptions to rape, sexual battery and other sexual offenses. The GOP holds a supermajority in both chambers and its support is necessary for any bill to become law. But the Democrats note in a Friday statement that DNA testing technology is advanced enough to detect evidence that is decades old. DeWine, a Republican, called for Ohio lawmakers to abolish the statute of limitations after an investigation found Richard Strauss, a former Ohio State University athletic doctor, sexually abused at least male students around 40 years ago.
Prosecutors in Illinois will no longer face a time limit on bringing charges for major sex offenses, regardless of the alleged victim's age, under a measure Gov. Pritzker signed into law Friday. The new law, which takes effect Jan. Previously, prosecutors had 10 years to bring charges if an offense was reported to law enforcement within three years after it occurred.