Hawai'i's Statutes of Limitations

Civil Statute of Limitations (HRS §657-1.8)

Hawai'i's statute of limitations involving child sexual abuse civil cases was amended in April 2012. The new law offers a two year window of opportunity for those who were abused many years ago to bring civil charges against their perpetrator.

Summary of the new law:

Civil actions can be brought against alleged perpetrators in child abuse cases:

  • up to 8 years after the child victim or person who committed the act of sexual abuse attains the age of majority (18 years), whichever occurs later; or
  • up to 3 years after the date the minor discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of minor's eighteenth birthday was caused by the sexual abuse, whichever comes later.
  • for a period of two years after the effective date of this new law (April 24, 2012) for cases in which a victim of child sexual abuse had been barred from filing a civil claim against the alleged abuser due to the expiration of the applicable civil statute of limitations that was in effect prior to April 24, 2012.

A civil action may also be brought against public or private entities that employed the person accused of committing the abuse if that entity owed a duty of care to the victim.

The National Crime Victim Bar Association advises crime victims on finding and selecting an attorney. They also provide crime victims information on the availability of civil remedies for their case.

Visit the website: www.victimbar.org. For attorney referrals call: (202) 467-8716.

Criminal Statute of Limitations (HRS §701-108)

Criminal actions can be brought against alleged perpetrators in child abuse cases up to 6 years after the child victim's 18th birthday for serious (Class A) sexual felonies, and up to 3 years for other sexual abuse crimes.

Sexual offenses that are Class A felonies include first degree sexual assault (most victims under age 16 and sexual act committed by strong compulsion), continuous sexual assault of a minor under 14 (offender resides in the same house as the minor or has recurring access, and engaged in three or more sexual acts while the minor is under 14), and first degree promotion of child abuse (including production or participation in the preparation of child pornography).

Non-Class A felonies include second and third degree sexual assault, second and third degree promotion of child abuse, first and second degree electronic enticement of a child.