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New Hampshire Law Expands Protections for Victims of Sexual Assault


New protections for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence took effect in New Hampshire on September 18, 2020. The new state law, which expands protections for sexual assault survivors and domestic violence victims, is known as House Bill 705.

HB 705, or the Crime Victims’ Rights Enhancement Act of 2020, introduced the following changes:

  • Eliminated the statute of limitations for civil sexual assault claims against abusers;
  • Expanded rights of sexual assault and domestic violence victims during court proceedings; and
  • Eliminated the loophole that allowed abusers to use marriage as an excuse in cases involving people with disabilities who are not able to consent or minors aged 13 to 16.

The new law, which was signed by New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu in July, is the first legislature expanding victims’ rights that passed in the state in decades, according to the Concord Monitor.

Eliminated Statute of Limitations for Civil Sexual Assault Claims

Before the new law, victims of sexual assault had a limited ability to sue their abusers in civil cases. HB 705 eliminated the statute of limitations for civil sexual assault cases. Survivors are now allowed to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser at any time.

Before HB 705, in most cases a victim of sexual assault had only 12 years to sue their abuser if the incident occurred before they turned 18. For victims of sexual assault older than 18, the statute of limitations for a civil lawsuit against the abuser was three years. The new law eliminated the time limit for both minor and adult victims.

The new law allows survivors to sue their abusers when they are ready, as they are no longer bound by any statute of limitations to pursue a lawsuit.

Eliminated a Legal Loophole Surrounding Spousal Rape

The law also eliminated a legal loophole that allowed abusers to commit sexual assault against a disabled spouse who had no ability to consent. Under the new law, if the disabled spouse’s disability prevents them from giving consent, a sexual act will count as sexual assault.

Also, HB 705 no longer allows assailants to avoid legal charges if they sexually assault a 13- to 16-year-old spouse. In New Hampshire, the minimum age of marriage is 13 for women and 14 for men.

How Much Money Can You Get in Compensation for Sexual Assault?

According to the CDC, rape and attempted rape can cost a victim more than $120,000 over their lifetime. It is advised to consult with a Manchester sexual assault attorney to evaluate recoverable damages in your unique case.

Factors that include the compensation amount in your civil sexual assault case include:

  • The severity of physical injuries;
  • Emotional and psychological damages;
  • Loss of income and/or earning capacity;
  • The cost of medical care;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life;
  • Inability to develop or maintain romantic relationships; and
  • Disfigurement, disability, or other permanent losses.

Being sexually assaulted is one of the worst things a person can experience in their lifetime. But you do not have to go through this alone. Victims deserve justice. If you wish to consider seeking compensation for your damages and losses, call our skilled Manchester sexual assault attorneys at the Law Office of Manning Zimmerman & Oliveira PLLC to discuss a civil claim on your behalf. Call at 603-624-7200 for a free, confidential consultation.




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