In Iowa, except for murder cases, the state has a set period after a crime has been committed to prosecute. The time limit is what is known as the statute of limitations, and it is in place to help ensure the accused is afforded a fair and speedy trial. As time passes, evidence, such as eye-witness accounts, documents, and objects can erode or become lost, meaning that if too much time elapses between the alleged offense and the case, the defendant could be found guilty based on faulty information.
The statute of limitations isn't the same for all offenses. For some crimes, it can be as little as a year; for others, it can be a decade or more. In matters involving sex offenses, the deadline by which the state can begin legal action varies and depends on several factors, including the type of crime committed, the age of the victim, or when a suspect is identified through DNA evidence.
Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Offenses
In Iowa, sexual abuse can be charged in the first, second, or third degree. Generally, the crime is committed when someone engages in a sex act against another person's will. Various types of conduct can be considered sexual abuse, such as using force, threatening the other person with a deadly weapon, or committing the offense against a minor.
For first-, second-, or third-degree sexual abuse, the statutes of limitations are as follows:
- Offenses committed against minors: 15 years after the alleged victim turns 18 years of age, or 3 years after the offender is identified through DNA evidence, whichever is later.
- Offenses committed against adults: 10 years after the crime is committed, or 3 years after the offender is identified through DNA evidence, whichever is later.
Statute of Limitations for Other Sex Crimes Against Minors
The statute of limitations for non-sexual abuse sex crimes against minors is 10 years after the alleged victim turns 18 years of age, or 3 years after the offender is identified through DNA evidence, whichever is later.
The offenses that fall under this time limit include:
- Lascivious acts with a child
- Assault with intent to commit sexual abuse
- Indecent contact with a child
- Lascivious conduct with a minor
- Sexual misconduct with a juvenile
- Child endangerment
- Sexual exploitation of a minor
Statute of Limitations for Other Felony or Misdemeanor Sex Crimes
Not all sex crimes have lengthy statutes of limitations like sexual abuse and sex offenses committed against minors. Some fall under the time limits for misdemeanors or felonies, which are much shorter.
For sex crimes charged as aggravated or serious misdemeanors or felonies not listed in the previous sections, the deadline for commencing prosecution is 3 years from the date the offense was committed.
At Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger, we provide aggressive defense for various criminal matters, including sex crimes. For the legal representation you need in Iowa City or Davenport, call us at (319) 499-5524 or contact us online today.