Speaking up and taking legal action against an abuser is one of the most challenging things a victim of sexual assault can do. It takes an exorbitant amount of courage and trust to come forward with allegations and call on legal representation to seek justice.
While there are statutes of limitations that limit how long a person has to file a case and seek compensation for wrongdoings for many claims, the statutes of limitations for sexual assault are different. Fortunately for victims in Nebraska, no time restrictions generally exist; however, it is still important to understand how the process works, how the law defines different types of sexual assault, and where time limitations do exist.
Degrees of Sexual Assault and the Statutes of Limitations
It’s crucial to understand the legally defined degrees of sexual assault, as the statute of limitations can change depending on the allegation. Chapter 28 of the Nebraska Revised Statute, which discusses sexual assault, defines three degrees.
Sexual Assault in the First Degree
This occurs when a person subjects another person to sexual penetration by forcible compulsion or when someone subjects a person to sexual contact who is unable to give consent. This may be because they are physically helpless, younger than 12 years of age, or mentally incapacitated. Age also plays a factor if one person is 25 years of age or older and the other person is 12 to 16 years of age.
There is no time limit to begin legal proceedings against an abuser in Nebraska. Victims can seek legal action any time after the incident.
Sexual Assault in the Second Degree
Second-degree sexual assault occurs when someone subjects another person to sexual contact without their consent and, as a result, the victim is seriously injured. Examples of serious personal injury include bodily injury or disfigurement, extreme mental anguish, pregnancy, or disease. This level of assault also applies if the actor knew or should have known that the victim was physically or mentally incapable of resisting the conduct or appraising the nature of the situation.
Sexual assault of a child in the second degree occurs if the actor is at least nineteen years of age and the victim is 14 or younger. Finally, anyone employed by the Nebraska Correction system that subjects an incarcerated, supervised, evaluated, or treated person to sexual abuse can be convicted of second degree assault.
As with first degree offenses, there are no statutes of limitations regarding claims for sexual assault in the second degree.
Sexual Assault in the Third Degree
This happens when one person subjects another to sexual contact without consent – either because it was not given or the victim was incapable of resisting or appraising the nature of the situation. With third-degree assault, serious personal injury is not present.
While there are no time restrictions when it comes to third-degree sexual assault of a child, there are other circumstances where a statute of limitations is present. In the event the victim is over 16, a lawsuit or indictment must be instituted or found within one year and six months after the incident occurred. This is unless the crime is punishable by less than three months in jail and a $100 fine – in which case the time limit is one year.
Sexual Assault and the Use of Electronic Communication Devices
Nebraska also has laws regarding a sexual assault with an electronic communication device. A person who violates the law can be found guilty of a Class ID felony. No one can knowingly solicit, entice, or lure a child who is 16 years of age or young, or a peace officer who is believed by the perpetrator to be of the same age by means of electronic communication. Acts include transmitting indecent, lewd, or obscene writing or sounds, sending visual depictions of sexually explicit content, or offering or soliciting indecent or lascivious acts.
Legal action must be filed within three years after the offense took place, according to the statute of limitations.
In addition to the laws and statutes of limitations discussed above, it’s important to be aware of the following:
- Civil actions involving sexual assault can only be brought forward within four years.
- Civil action by a victim of sexual assault as a child can only be brought forward within 12 years after the victim has turned 21.
At Welsh & Welsh, we handle sexual assault cases with the utmost sensitivity. We believe victims have the right to hold abusers accountable for their actions, and we’ll do what it takes to ensure justice is achieved. If you or someone you know has a potential case, do not hesitate to reach out to us for guidance. We’re here for you.