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Can a crime of sexual abuse be reported after a long time?

Can a crime of sexual abuse be reported after a long time?

One of the problems related to crimes against freedom and sexual indemnity is that they are often silenced. Victims tend to feel ashamed or guilty when reporting a crime of sexual abuse, or they want the traumatic situation to end as soon as possible. 

In the case of minor victims, the situation is even more complex. They may face disrepute, be unaware that they are being abused, and even be victims of their parents or authority figures, leaving them helpless and with no one to turn to. 

Failure to report the crime of sexual abuse introduces the risk that the crime will go unpunished. Either because it never comes to light or because, by doing so, the crime has prescribed.

This is precisely why it is important to act quickly when a crime is detected. Both victims and witnesses should immediately seek the assistance of a criminal law firm, such as Forcam Abogados.

But not seeking immediate help is not reason enough to understand that nothing can be done. The law allows reporting a crime of sexual abuse after a long time, and from our office we strive so that the victims obtain their restitution and their aggressors do not go unpunished. 

The prescription of crimes of sexual abuse, in general 

The Criminal Code links the statute of limitations of the crime to the associated penalty. In this sense:

1.- The general type of sexual abuse is punishable by a prison sentence of one to three years or a fine of eighteen to twenty-four months.

2.- When it involves sexual intercourse (rape), the abuse is sentenced to four to ten years in prison.

Pursuant to art. 131 of the Penal Code, we would be talking about statutes of limitation of five and ten years, respectively. This term counts from when the abuse was suffered, although it can be interrupted, in which case it will start running again.

Why is it necessary to have a good criminal lawyer?

Failure to report the crime of sexual abuse introduces the risk that the crime will go unpunished. Either because it never comes to light or because, by doing so, the crime has prescribed.

This is precisely why it is important to act quickly when a crime is detected. Both victims and witnesses should immediately seek the assistance of expert criminal lawyers in crimes of sexual abuse, who will always accompany and guide them throughout the criminal procedure, helping them to achieve all the objectives set. This is the case of Forcam Abogados, a law firm with extensive experience both in the prosecution and in the defense of the crime of sexual abuse.

The interruption of the prescription of crimes

The prescription of the crime is interrupted when a process is directed against the person who is indirectly responsible for the crime. In these cases, the statute of limitations will begin to run again when the procedure is stopped or ends without conviction. 

All this implies that the prosecution of the crime before it prescribes, even in cases in which it is not convicted, at least provides time to be able to report it again later. What allows evidence to be collected (either by the manifestation of new facts or improvements in the technique) and to act again at a future moment.

The prescription of sexual abuse of minors 

Following our analysis, when sexual abuse affects a person between sixteen and eighteen years of age, the penalty will be imprisonment from one to three years. This will amount to prison from two to six years in case of rape. 

If the victim were under sixteen years of age, we would be facing prison sentences of two to six years, which will rise to five to ten years when there is violence or intimidation, or from eight to twelve years in the case of rape. 

The applicable limitation periods, therefore, are five, ten or fifteen years, depending on the seriousness of the crime.

However, art. 132.1 of the Penal Code establishes a special rule here:

"In crimes [...] against sexual freedom and indemnity [...], when the victim is a person under eighteen years of age, the terms will be computed from the moment the victim turns thirty-five years of age."

So sexual abuse suffered in childhood could be pursued until the age of forty, forty-five or fifty, depending on its severity.

The limit to the suspension of the limitation period

It is important to remember (see STS no. 9/2018) that before the reform of the Penal Code operated by Organic Law 11/1999, the prescription of crimes against the sexual freedom and indemnity of minors began to compute from their coming of age. This implies that the acts committed before said date would have prescribed when the victim had turned twenty-three, twenty-eight or thirty-three years old.

In short, it is possible to report a crime of sexual abuse after a long time. But you have to pay attention to the statute of limitations, which requires a detailed analysis of the case and expertise when it comes to defending it. We always recommend reporting this type of crime as soon as possible.

Contact usand our law firm will study your specific case. We offer assistance and criminal advice at a national and international level. In addition, we have:

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