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If Person A commits a criminal or civil offense on Day 1, which then becomes lawful on Day 2, can Person A be prosecuted or sued on Day 3 (Day 1, 2, and 3 are not necessarily subsequent days, but happen in this order)?

Also, if Person A is a minor when the offense occurred, but is now an adult, would the person be legally considered a minor or an adult if prosecuted or sued?

If a statute of limitations is shortened, then does the new one apply or the one that existed when the person did the crime/tort?

Note that although I tagged this United States, information on any country would be relevant.

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If Person A commits a criminal or civil offense on Day 1, which then becomes lawful on Day 2, can Person A be prosecuted or sued on Day 3 (Day 1, 2, and 3 are not necessarily subsequent days, but happen in this order)?

As a general rule they can be prosecuted but the exactly language of the effective date language in the statute controls. It might say, for example, "effective for prosecutions filed after Day 2" in which case it couldn't be prosecuted.

Also, if Person A is a minor when the offense occurred, but is now an adult, would the person be legally considered a minor or an adult if prosecuted or sued?

Generally speaking, a minor. But this is a function of the language of the statute in question in the case of juvenile prosecutions.

If a statute of limitations is shortened, then does the new one apply or the one that existed when the person did the crime/tort?

Again, it depends upon the effective date language of the statute. Typically, it will apply to suits filed after the effective date.

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    I think the question's author is trying to figure out if there is a general principle that can be applied. And your answer is saying that there is no overarching principle and that a legislation may be written either way. – grovkin Jun 12 at 0:20
  • @grovkin That is a fair description of the bottom line answer. – ohwilleke Jun 12 at 0:22
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I'm going to answer this in the opposite way and from personal experience, for the jurisdiction of the England and Wales.

I reported my abuser to the police in 2012, and he was arrested, interviewed and ultimately charged with several offences. After investigation, he was also charged with another 50 offences against another 12 children.

Unfortunately, despite the Sexual Offences Act being updated in 2003, my abuser could only be charged with the relatively minor offence of "Indecent Assault", because the offences occurred in the 1980s - he could only be prosecuted as per the law at the time of the offence, rather than the current law (which would see him charged with the offence of rape under the Sexual Offences Act for several of the Indecent Assault charges).

So in the case of where the law was made harsher between the offence and the prosecution, the charges do not reflect that change.

In the case of where the law becomes more lenient, especially to the point of where the act is now legal, prosecutors would have a hard time justifying a prosecution being within the public interest and therefore the prosecution would almost certainly not happen.

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