In recent years, movements such as MeToo and Time’s Up have shined a spotlight on sexual abuse of women. As a result, many states are reexamining current laws and passing new ones in an effort to give victims legal options they have not had to bring those responsible for sexual abuse and assault to court. However, New York state recently changed that by passing a new state law that now extends the statute of limitations for rape. The law, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, has been hailed as a major step forward to help victims who have had to stay silent for far too long. If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse, it is important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. For victims who desire to initiate a lawsuit, it is recommended they first schedule a consultation with Gersowitz Libo & Korek P.C.

Varying Degrees of Rape

As many people fail to realize, rape can be defined as either first, second, or third-degree, depending on the factors involved in the incident. For example, to be classified as second-degree rape, victims must be:

  • –incapable of consent due to mental disability or mental incapacitation
  • –victim is less than 15 years old and attacker is at least 18 years old

As for third-degree rape, the circumstances that must be present include:

  • –victim incapable of giving consent
  • –victim is under 17 years old and attacker is at least 21 years old

Due to the numerous complexities that can be found in these cases, victims should always consult an experienced sexual abuse attorney to discuss their case.

Changes to Statute of Limitations

By signing this legislation, Governor Cuomo has now allowed New York to make major changes to the statute of limitations regarding rape. While there continues to be no statute of limitations for first-degree rape, limitations on second and third-degree rape have been considerably lengthened. As of now, the statute of limitations for second-degree rape has gone from only five years to 20 years, while that of third-degree rape has been extended from five years to 10 years.

Criminal and Civil Lawsuits
These changes in the statute of limitations for rape, along with the recently signed Child Victims Act, now provide victims of rape an opportunity to not only see their attacker face criminal charges, but also civil action against them as well. Due to the severe physical and emotional toll rape takes on its victims, many victims are likely to pursue civil action against their attackers in an effort to be compensated for the abuse. For victims who desire to initiate a lawsuit, it is recommended they first schedule a consultation with a sexual assault lawyer who has handled similar cases in the past with successful results.

As these changes go into effect, officials expect hundreds if not thousands of victims to now come forward with their allegations of rape and sexual assault. However, since many of these allegations will be about incidents that occurred years ago, victims may face difficulties in proving their cases, especially if they are relying on attorneys who have limited if any experience in these matters. Therefore, victims should immediately consult a sexual abuse attorney to learn more about how to bring their case to court.