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Understanding the New York Child Victims Act and the Latest Extension

The New York Child Victims Act (CVA) significantly extended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases, allowing those who may have experienced sexual abuse as children extended time to move forward with both criminal and civil cases, while also opening up the possibility of criminal charges for those accused of acts of child sexual abuse in what seems like the distant past. Prior to the passage of the CVA, survivors of child sexual abuse faced a statute of limitations of anywhere from one to five years to file a civil claim, and accusers needed to move forward with felony criminal cases before they reached the age of 23. Now, the law gives survivors more time to press charges. For anyone who could be facing allegations, the CVA means that you could be charged with child sexual abuse in the coming years.

To be clear, the CVA has resulted in significant changes to the law, and it means that you could be facing criminal charges for child sexual abuse even if the prior statute of limitations ran out. In addition, if you are accused of child sexual abuse, you could be facing civil penalties even after the criminal statute of limitations runs out. We want to provide you with more information about the Child Victims Act and what it means for people facing accusations, and to discuss your plans for a defense.

What is the Child Victims Act?

The Child Victims Act is a New York state law that extends the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse to move forward with civil and criminal cases. The statute applies within the state of New York, including in Rochester and other areas of upstate New York. The law was designed to provide survivors of child sexual abuse with additional time to hold a wrongdoer accountable, recognizing that it can take years after abuse for a survivor to come forward.

For anyone who may be facing accusations of child sexual abuse, the CVA means that you could be facing criminal charges, in addition to civil penalties, for alleged acts that occurred decades prior. Governor Cuomo signed the law in February 2019, and it took effect shortly thereafter.

How the Statutes of Limitations Have Been Extended Under the CVA

How did the CVA extend the statute of limitations in criminal cases? Prior to the passage of the Child Victims Act, misdemeanor child sexual abuse charges needed to be brought against the accused by the time the survivor reached the age of 20. Under the Child Victims Act, the statute of limitations has been extended by five additional years. Accordingly, misdemeanor child sexual abuse charges can be filed up until the survivor reaches the age of 25—even if the allegations concern alleged events that took place when the child was very young.

Similarly, the CVA extended the statute of limitations for felony child sexual abuse charges by five years. Prior to the passage of the CVA, felony child sexual abuse charges needed to be brought by the time the survivor reached the age of 23. Under the new law, survivors are now allowed to press charges up until they reach the age of 28.

Do the COVID-19 Extensions Apply to Criminal Charges?

You might have heard or read that the statute of limitations under the Child Victims Act had been extended or paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and you may be wondering if the extension also applies to the criminal statute of limitations. Indeed, a recent press release from the governor’s office announced that claims under the CVA would be extended until August 14, 2021 due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus shutdowns. Yet it is important to know that the extension applies to civil lawsuits.

The extension of the statute of the limitations on cases filed under the CVA does not extend the criminal statute of limitations further. However, even if the statute of limitations has run out on criminal charges, you should know that you could still be facing a civil lawsuit under the statute.

If you are still within the time window in which criminal charges could be filed, it is critical to remember that you can defend against these allegations with assistance from an experienced Rochester criminal defense attorney. Multiple defense strategies may be available in your case. False allegations are made often. Our legal team can discuss specific defense strategies based on the particular facts of your case.

Contact a Rochester Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are now facing allegations of child sexual abuse under the extended statute of limitations through the Child Victims Act, and you may soon be facing criminal charges, it is critical to have an experienced Rochester sex crimes defense attorney on your side. For many people accused of child sex abuse, the allegations and charges are startling, and they can have serious repercussions. In the event you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, you will be required to register with the sex offender registry, and you will face serious criminal penalties. Contact King Law today for help with your defense.

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