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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

How Long After an Assault Can You Press Charges in California? | Learn More with Goss Law

The statute of limitations is crucial to understand, as it allows the prosecutor to file charges against an alleged criminal offender within a certain time frame. Under California law, there are strict timelines that the government must adhere to if they wish to hold the alleged offender responsible for their actions.


However, the statute of limitations may vary depending on certain factors, including the type of allegation and the victim's age. Those who are facing an investigation or criminal charges must reach out for legal help.


The criminal defense attorneys at Goss Law in Sacramento, California, have a deep knowledge of criminal law and extensive experience in fighting for the defendant's rights. They can help the defendant by assessing the facts around their criminal case and guiding them on their legal options. They can give more insight on what crimes have no statute of limitations in California.


How Long After an Assault Can You Press Charges in California?

How Long After an Assault Can You Press Charges in California?


Under the criminal statute of limitations for simple assault, the prosecutor must press charges within one year if it is a misdemeanor crime or three years if it falls under a felony offense.


However, there may be a tolling period that can extend or place a hold on the statute of limitations, depending on the circumstances of the case.


A statute of limitations is the time period in which the prosecutor can bring a case against the alleged offender. If they fail to do so within the prescribed time frame, the law bars them from filing criminal charges.


An important thing to remember when it comes to the criminal statute of limitations in California is the discovery rule. It helps determine when the clock starts ticking.


Under the discovery rule in California law, the statute of limitations for a crime begins only after its discovery and not when the actual offense took place.


Below is an example to help illustrate how the statute of limitations works in a criminal case in California:


Ben commits a simple assault on the 1st of February, 2023. However, the law enforcement authorities learn about the offense on the 10th of February, 2023.


In the above-mentioned example, the statute of limitations will begin when the police officers discover the crime, which was February 2023, rather than the actual date of the incident.


What Is the Importance of the Statute of Limitations?


The statute of limitations allows the prosecutor to file criminal charges against the offenders months or years after the discovery of the crime. This ensures that the affected families receive justice through the court.


Just as the statute of limitations is essential for the prosecutors to ensure justice, it is equally crucial for the defendants as well. With time, the evidence may be tampered with, which can affect the integrity of a criminal case.


Witnesses, for example, may move out or have faded memories about the incident. The statute of limitations ensures fairness for the defendants. It prevents prosecutors from pursuing criminal charges against the accused after a certain period of time due to the impact it may have on the evidence.


It's important to note that the statute of limitations applies not only to criminal cases but also to civil ones as well.


Under the California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, injured victims may be able to pursue a claim or lawsuit against the negligent party within two years from the date of injury for most personal injury cases.


Is Simple Assault a Misdemeanor Under California Law?


A simple assault refers to the illegal actions carried out by an individual to cause physical harm to another person. It does not necessarily have to involve violent actions but can also refer to the threat of violence.


Under the California Penal Code Section 240, a simple assault is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or a combination of both.


Does Aggravated Assault Fall Under Felony Criminal Offenses in California?


Under the California Penal Code Section 245, an aggravated assault refers to the illegal actions carried out by an individual to cause severe or aggravated bodily injury to another person. It may include the use of a deadly weapon (PC245a1), firearm (PC 245a2), and caustic chemicals (PC 244), among others.


An aggravated assault is a wobbler offense. This means that prosecutors can bring misdemeanor or felony charges against the defendant, depending on several factors, including the facts surrounding the criminal case and the defendant's prior history of violent crimes. Goss Law can give more details on what the 3 strike law in California is.


If the prosecutor charges an aggravated assault as a misdemeanor, the defendant may have to spend up to one year in county jail, pay a fine, or a combination of both.


On the other hand, if the prosecutor charges the offender with a felony crime, it could lead to up to four years in state prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.


Although aggravated assault is a wobbler offense, it is important to note that if it involves caustic chemicals, the case is often charged as a felony.


Are There Crimes That Do Not Have a Statute of Limitations?


The California statute of limitations does not go into the details of the time frame for all types of crimes. However, it does state that severe offenses that are punishable by life imprisonment or death do not have a statute of limitations.


This means that prosecutors can file criminal charges against the offender at any time for several different crimes. Some of these include the following:

  • Forced or violent rape;

  • Spousal rape that involves the use of force or violence;

  • First-degree murder;

  • Treason; and

  • Aggravated assault.

Besides the above-mentioned offenses, white-collared crimes that involve the embezzlement of public funds do not have a statute of limitations.


What Is the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault in California?


The California statute of limitations may vary depending on the allegations or crimes committed by the offender in the state.


However, it does not apply to criminal charges that are punishable by life imprisonment or death. One of these offenses includes sexual assault. This allows the prosecution to gather substantial evidence without worrying about the time limits on bringing legal action.


Another reason for eliminating the statute of limitations for rape cases or sexual assault allegations is because the topic is extremely sensitive to discuss. It gives the victims the time and opportunity to mentally deal with the incident before they're ready to come forward.


There are specific sexual assault offenses mentioned under the subdivision of the California Penal Code 261, 264.1, 286, 287, 288, 288.5, and 289 that do not have a statute of limitations. However, the other crimes mentioned in these sections have a time limit in which the prosecutors must take action.


Under the California PC Section 799(b)(1), the prosecutor can file criminal charges against the defendant for certain felony sexual assault crimes at any time, regardless of the date of the incident.


However, there may be a shorter statute of limitations for sexual assault crimes that do not fall under felony offenses.


The California Penal Code Section 800 states that any offense that is punishable by eight years or more in state prison has a statute of limitations of six years. Minor sexual assault offenses may have a three-year time frame.


In most sexual assault cases, it is a recurring offense, which means that the victim may have suffered at the hands of the perpetrator more than once. The clock for these types of crimes starts from the date of the most recent assault.


What Are the California Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault Involving Minors?


When it comes to the criminal justice system, the law provides special treatment for children and minors. Although serious sexual assault charges may not have a statute of limitations, for other sexual assault offenses involving minors, California law allows the prosecutors to bring criminal charges against the sex offender as late as the victim's 40th birthday.


Why Does the California Criminal Law Treat Minors Differently Than Adults?

Why Does the California Criminal Law Treat Minors Differently Than Adults?


There are several reasons why the law treats minors differently than adults, and these include the following:


They May Not Be Able to Report a Crime


Children are often susceptible to what is going on. They may be unable to comprehend the sexual assault, or they may be too afraid to talk to their parents about it until they're of legal age.


If the law did not treat minors differently from adults, the ordinary statute of limitations would've passed by the time they turned 18.


They Are Easily Manipulated


Sexual abuse perpetrators like to control their victims, and it's easier for them to manipulate minors. They exert power and influence over the children they abuse, which makes it difficult for the victims to escape the clutches of the defendant when they're well into adulthood.


Even after the victims are able to free themselves of the control exerted over them by the sexual assault perpetrators, they're unable to come forward due to the psychological trauma from the incidents.


They Face Abuse from Their Loved Ones


In most sexual assault cases, the victims are often abused by those who care for them. It could be their parent, guardian, or authority figure, which makes it even more challenging to step up and stand against the abuse.


Since the child may rely on the care offered by their abuser, they may be unable to free themselves from the abuse until they're financially independent.


Criminal Offenses Can Change the Defendant's Life Completely. Goss Law Firm Can Provide Legal Help!


Sometimes, people may file charges against others for old crimes in the past, while others may have ulterior motives. Sexual assaults or other assault allegations can adversely affect the defendant's life, which is why it is crucial for them to seek out the help of an experienced Sacramento criminal attorney.


Those who are facing sexual assault charges or other assault allegations in Sacramento, California, should call to schedule a free consultation with the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Goss Law. They can help assess any statute of limitations violations, evaluate the facts of the case, and provide legal guidance.

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