A statute of limitations is a law that prevents the prosecution of a crime once a specified amount of time has passed. For instance, if a rape was committed in 2020 in a jurisdiction that limited prosecutions for rape- by statute- to ten years after the crime (or possibly ten years after charges were first filed against a suspect), no charges could be filed after 2030. Limitations statutes vary by jurisdiction and tend to scale up based on the seriousness of the crime. Recently, accusations of child molestation and sexual assault by religious ministers have led to a number of proposals that law systems with statutes of limitations lift them and allow prosecutions to proceed irrespective of how long ago in the past an alleged crime occurred.
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