Australia's Statute of Limitations for Child Abuse?

by Ashlea
(Victoria, Australia )

I was just wondering what the Statute of Limitations on child abuse is? I was abused in 1999, and she got away with it as I was too young to be put on the stand. The sexual abuse still affects me today, especially in my relationships and my trust. I was also wondering if it was possible to have her tried in court again.


Reply from Darlene: My answer to this Ask Darlene question "Australia's Statute of Limitations for Child Abuse?" can be found at Comments below this submission. Depending on system activity, there are sometimes delays in comments going live on my site; but rest assured, they do eventually appear. So if you don't yet see them, I hope you will return later to read what I, and possibly others, have written. I thank you for your patience and understanding.

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Aug 06, 2008
I'm not clear on the law in Australia; however...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Ashlea, I'm terribly sorry you were abused as a small child. And I'm equally sorry that your abuser "got away with it," leaving you without the justice you now so desperately seek. I can understand how what happened to you has affected your relationships and your ability to trust.

As to your question, I am not a lawyer, nor do I have in-depth knowledge of the legal system in Australia. What I can say to you is that it is highly unlikely that the statute of limitations applies in this situation, because this person, your abuser, was already tried and found not guilty in a court of law. Statute of limitations generally applies to crimes not heard in court.

You asked if your abuser could be re-tried in court. While I'm sure it seems unfair, in all likelihood, your abuser may well be protected under a double-jeopardy type of law. Basically, a double-jeopardy law states that the person cannot be tried again for the same crime when they have been found not guilty of that crime. If a law like this didn't exist, Ashlea, it would be possible for someone to be tried over and over and over again, until that person was found guilty. That's why it's so important to get the court case right the first time around; most times, there is no second chance. And while I'm sure that being able to go after an abuser over and over again, until that abuser is found guilty of the crime, suits some people just fine, a system that would allow the possibility of never-ending trials is one that most of us would not want to live in.

Having said all this, if one of my visitors has more first-hand knowledge of Australia's laws with regard to such a case, perhaps s/he would care to leave a comment in this thread.

In the meantime, I suggest you contact an attorney who specializes in this type of law to get more information about possible options; perhaps there is a "civil" case opportunity open to you. I also urge you to enter into some form of counselling in order to help you deal with the emotional residue of what happened to you as a child, Ashlea. You are certainly worth that kind of help.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Jun 13, 2009
child abuse

im a child my mum abuse me and my brothers friend my mum dosent believe i hide and run but my mum does it to me to punishies me for defending myself by abusing me

May 10, 2010
Statute of limitations
by: Anonymous

How old are these complainants (for want of a better word. As best I recall time doesn't run until they are 18.

From Darlene: Anonymous, the question here with regard to statute of limitations was about re-trying for crimes that the abuser was already found not guilty for.

From Victim to Victory, a memoir
Darlene Barriere
author. speaker. survivor. coach
From Victim to Victory, a memoir

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