What Is AB 218?
Because sex crimes against minors are prosecuted aggressively in California, the penalties for conviction are severe. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newson signed Assembly Bill 218 into law, which further expanded the legal rights of victims of childhood sex crimes. Under California’s previous statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse, victims had to file a lawsuit either by the age of 26 or within 3 years of when the victim discovered that their psychological injury was caused by sexual abuse, whichever occurred later. AB 218, however, extended the state’s statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims, increasing the time that victims have to file a claim. Additionally, the bill provides that courts can triple the awards for damages when the perpetrator attempted to or successfully covered up the sexual abuse.
When Can Victims File a Claim Under AB 218?
Between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2022, AB 218 suspended the statute of limitations for childhood sex crimes, allowing victims of childhood sexual assault to file a civil complaint against the alleged perpetrator regardless of the victim’s age. After December 31, 2022, those wishing to file a complaint regarding childhood sexual abuse must file a claim either by the age of 40 or within 5 years of when they discover that their psychological injury was caused by sexual abuse, whichever occurs later. For example, if a woman was molested as a child but did not learn of the abuse until she was 50 years old, she could file a sexual abuse claim until she turns 55, at which point the statute of limitations ends.
What Crimes Are Covered Under AB 218?
Childhood sexual assault is defined under California law as unwanted sexual contact that occurs before a child turns 18. It is important to note that even if the sexual act was “consensual,” minors cannot legally consent to sexual contact, so this is not a defense. The crimes covered under AB 218 include:
- Enticing a minor to prostitution
- Committing incest with a minor
- Committing sodomy with a minor
- Committing lewd or lascivious acts with a minor
- Committing oral copulation with a minor
- Committing forcible sexual penetration with a minor
- Employing a minor in obscene matter
- Molesting a minor
What Should I Do If I Have Been Accused of Child Sexual Abuse?
If you have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor, you may feel lost and overwhelmed. In order to help you through the complicated legal process, your first step should be to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney will give you a better understanding of what to do while under investigation, as well as know the best defenses to employ if the case goes to trial.
Since many of these childhood sex abuse cases happened years or even decades ago, it may be hard for the prosecution to collect the evidence needed for a conviction. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich will fight aggressively on your behalf to get your case dismissed before it ever reaches the trial stage. With a pre-filing intervention, our attorneys can gather evidence in order to prevent a prosecutor from filing a criminal complaint against you in the first place. Our attorneys can step in to show that you did not commit the alleged crime and then meet with the prosecutor to present your side.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
If you have been accused of a sex crime on a minor, your life may be turned upside down. To clear your name, you need an experienced defense team on your side. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients accused of sex crimes with great success. We understand how tough these cases can be, but we will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible results so that you never need to worry.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available Wallin and Klarich office near you. Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.