A girl whose face is being covered by her hand with a white shirt is being held by a guy.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Rape Charges?

Recent changes in Minnesota law have led people to ask, “What is the statute of limitations on rape charges in Minneapolis?” There is no statute of limitations on rape charges in Minnesota. This applies to first-degree rape charges through the fourth degree. A new law erased the timeline for initiating criminal proceedings for felony sexual conduct on September 15, 2021. The new law affects rape and sexual assault incidents occurring on and after that date. All rape and sexual assault cases before that date still carry the 9-year statutory limit, unless an exception exists. 

A girl whose face is being covered by her hand with a white shirt is being held by a guy.

The new law puts your freedom and future at risk if you are facing rape charges. A conviction could result in a long prison sentence, hefty fines, a requirement to register as a sex offender, and other hidden consequences. A sexual assault attorney with an excellent record of defending criminal sexual assault defendants can increase your chance of beating rape charges. The attorney can discuss your legal rights, advise you on pitfalls to avoid, and skillfully defend you during criminal proceedings. 

What Is a Statute of Limitations? 

A statute of limitations is a law that imposes the maximum length of time parties involved in legal disputes have to take legal action. The legal dispute can be civil or criminal. The statute of limitations usually begins on the date of the alleged dispute. Once the set time limits elapse, the accused person cannot face civil or criminal proceedings unless an exception exists.

The length of the statute varies from state to state and depends on the nature of the legal dispute. Felony sexual assault, for instance, has no statute of limitation in Alaska and Minnesota. The same crime carries a 15-year time limit in Massachusetts. 

The prosecution office must identify relevant statutes of limitations in your case before pressing charges. In that regard, the prosecution office will consider the following factors: 

The Type of Crime in Question 

The statute of limitations for serious crimes typically ranges from many years to having essentially no time limit. Prosecutors have longer to press charges for sex crimes than misdemeanors. 

The Date of the Crime 

The “timer” for the statute of limitations generally starts counting immediately after the crime allegedly occurs. Some factors can remove or pause the statute of limitations. This might happen, for example, when the alleged victim is a child under a specific age. 

Involved Parties in the Crime 

Prosecutors will identify the victim and the alleged offender. They will determine whether any relationship existed between the parties. Then, they determine what they believe to be the appropriate charges and the applicable statute of limitations. 

States enacted statutes of limitations to prevent convictions centered on stale evidence and unreliable witness statements. Technology has provided new options for preserving evidence recently. DNA, videos, audio recordings, texts, and emails can remain viable for decades. The evolution of newer, reliable forms of evidence has inspired states to reconsider their laws. Because of this, some states have ditched time limits for crimes like felony sexual assault and murder.  

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations on Rape Charges?

If someone is accusing you of rape, you might ask, “what is the statute of limitations on rape charges?” You might also want to know if there are exceptions to the statute of limitations in rape cases. Incidents happening on or after September 15, 2021, have an unlimited statute of limitations for felony rape charges in Minnesota. 

The statute of limitations for cases before that date remains nine years. A few exceptions apply to these previous rape cases. 

  • DNA evidence availability completely erases the deadline for commencing criminal proceedings.  
  • The statute of limitations pauses if the rape victim was a child. In this case, criminal proceedings can be initiated within three years after contacting the police, regardless of when the rape happened. 
  • Pausing the statute of limitation is also possible under certain extraordinary circumstances. The “clock” may, for instance, stop ticking if the alleged offender intentionally avoids prosecution or relocates to another state. 

Can You Be Sued in Civil Court for Rape?

You can be sued for rape in a civil court. If the court finds you liable for the complainant’s injuries or damages, the court will order you to pay monetary damages to the complainant. The damages may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and emotional trauma, and loss of quality of life. 

You can face a civil lawsuit for rape despite a criminal court acquitting you of the crime. Similarly, you can face criminal charges for rape, even if the civil court has ruled in your favor. Civil cases do not lead to a criminal record. 

What to Do When Someone Falsely Accuses You of a Sex Crime?

False sex crime accusations can result in your criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and getting placed on the “Sex Offenders Registry.” These outcomes can cause you and your family immense suffering. Knowing how to respond to false sex crime allegations and pitfalls to avoid can help protect your rights and prevent a potential conviction. 

Get Legal Support Immediately

Sex Assault Defense Lawyer Max KellerSeek legal assistance from a sexual assault attorney immediately after someone falsely accuses you of sex crimes. The attorney will examine the specifics of your sex crime allegations and advise you on the best way to protect your rights and interests. The attorney will help you understand your legal options for fighting the false allegations.

The attorney will review all reports, video or audio recordings, and other evidence the prosecutor plans to use. Your attorney will then investigate the incident, gather more facts, and involve expert witnesses to develop a strong defense strategy. 


Document the Alleged Incident 

Note down as much information as possible about any alleged incident or event. This information can help build a solid defense against any sex crime charges the prosecutor may bring against you. Share this information with your sexual assault attorney only. 

Familiarize Yourself with the Allegations                  

Take a closer look at false sex crime allegations to understand their nature and severity. You can do that by getting a copy of the police report if the complainant has formally reported it. You can also ask your attorney to explain what the complainant is asserting. 

Avoid Interacting with the Complainant 

You might be tempted to contact the complainant and try to resolve the issue quickly. This is especially true if the complainant is someone you know, such as a colleague, friend, spouse/ex-spouse, or relative. Doing that will only worsen the situation.

The best thing to do when facing false sex crime accusations is to stay calm to avoid raising suspicion and exacerbating your situation. Do not interact with anyone involved in the allegation, including the complainant, witnesses, and investigating officers. 

Ensure someone who is not part of the case is present if an interaction with such parties is unavoidable. More importantly, your attorney should be present during any interaction with the investigating officer.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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