Improving the Statute of Limitations for Sex Offenses

Several bills have been introduced in the Legislature to extend or eliminate the statute of limitations—or the window of time when a crime can be prosecuted—for sex crimes in Washington State.

Background: Washington has some of the shortest and most complex statutes of limitations in the country for the prosecution of sexual assault crimes. Removing this barrier is critical to ensure survivors of sexual violence can come forward and seek justice when they are ready.

SB 5649 eliminates the statute of limitations for most sex offenses against minors, and will provide longer periods of time to prosecute most other felony sex offenses. In addition, SB 5649 would revise our third-degree rape statute to eliminate a requirement that survivors must “clearly express” their non-consent by their words or conduct—a provision that is similar to HB 1002, another bill that we are supporting this session.

HB 1231 was substantially amended in committee and is now similar in content to SB 5649.

Update as of 4/10/19: SB 5649 passed the Senate with a unanimous vote, and passed the House with a vote of 94–1! The bill was signed into law by Gov. Inslee on April 19th!

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