Bill S-477 has opened up a 2-year window allowing survivors to press charges, even on offenses committed decades ago.
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“New Jersey’s Child Victims Act” (Bill S-477):
What You Need to Know
New Jersey lawmakers have just passed an unprecedented bill. Bill S-477 implements multiple provisions to protect survivors who were sexually assaulted as children, similar to New York’s Child Victims Act
How does this help?
Bill S-477 includes provisions that:
- Extend the statute of limitations to allow victims to bring up civil cases until they turn 55
- Extend the statute of limitations from 2 years after discovery to 7 years
- Opens a two-year window for survivors to sue public or private institutions for offenses committed even decades ago
Bill S-477 will “apply to any action filed on or after the effective date, including but not limited to matters where the statute of limitations has expired and matters filed with a court that have not yet been dismissed or finally adjudicated as of the effective date.
“The bill would revive any action that was previously dismissed on grounds that the applicable statute of limitations had expired for a period of two years following the effective date.
“The bill would not revive any action previously dismissed on grounds other than the statute of limitations or revive any action that has been finally adjudicated.”
-Taken from Bill S-477 Statement
Why is this happening?
In the #metoo era, legislation like this is absolutely necessary. Victims of sexual crimes during childhood may need many months or years to come to grips with their experiences and decide on the actions they wish to take. Often, it isn’t until adulthood that a survivor may be emotionally ready. By extending the statute of limitations, survivors can take the time they need, and the predators who commit such horrific crimes will no longer be let off the hook.
Who does this affect?
This affects all New Jersey residents who have survived sexual crimes or abuse as a child, especially those who may have lost the ability to press charges due to previous statute of limitations.
Who is sponsoring Bill S477?
The Child Victims Act was originally sponsored by Joseph F. Vitale (D) of New Jersey’s 19th Senate District.
When will Bill S-477 be implemented?
Bills like this one have been tossed around the senate floor for nearly two decades, losing traction due to push-back from corrupt politicians and organizations like the Catholic Church. Critics of the bill believed that giving these rights to survivors would bankrupt or damage institutions that have been complicit in these crimes.
Other politicians claimed that the bill would be useless, since many survivors do not have the necessary funds to take their cases to court alone.
On March 25, 2019, Biill S-477 was passed with a sweeping 71-0 vote.
The new legislation will be signed into effect by Governor Phil Murphy in the coming days.
Why does this matter?
Merson Law wants to take the passing of Bill S-477 as an opportunity for survivors to claim the justice they deserve.
If you were the victim of sexual assault or sexual violence as a child, call us for a free consultation. Just remember, you don’t need to pay out of your pocket to take action now.