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Statutes of limitations are the time limits that a victim of sexual assault has to file a legal claim.

Criminal cases are filed by the state and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Convicted offenders may face incarceration, fines or both.

Civil cases are filed by individuals and must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely to have occurred than not. Civil law is designed to make the victim “whole,” usually in the form of monetary damages.

The statutes of limitations in criminal and civil cases for sexual assault in Pennsylvania vary and are extremely fact sensitive.

Statutory time limits can range from two years to no time limit depending on many factors.  Some factors include:  the type of sexual assault, the type of case, the date of the assault, the survivor’s age at the time of the assault, and the survivor’s relationship to the perpetrator.  Exceptions can apply.

Because statutes of limitations need to be determined on a case by case basis, legal advice is strongly recommended.   Please consult with your local district attorney’s office or an experienced lawyer.

If you decide to file a police report:

After you make a police report, the county prosecutor or district attorney’s office will decide if criminal charges should be filed against the offender. If charges are filed, the case will begin to move through the legal process.

In order to make this decision, the prosecutor or district attorney must consider a few things:

  • Is there is enough evidence to prove that a crime happened?
  • Which charges, if any, can be filed?
  • Can guilt be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” in court?

Sexual Assault Laws in PA


Sexual Violence Protection Orders