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Stogner v. California
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued March 31, 2003
Decided June 26, 2003
Full case name Marion Reynolds Stogner v. California
Citations 539 U.S. 607 (more)
A law enacted after expiration of a previously applicable limitations period violates the ex post facto clause when it is applied to revive a previously time-barred prosecution.[1]
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Breyer, joined by Stevens, O'Connor, Souter, Ginsburg
Dissent Kennedy, joined by Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas
Laws applied
U.S. Const. art. I, sec. 9; U.S. Const. amend. XIV

Stogner v. California, 539 U.S. 607 (2003) is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which held that California's retroactive extension of the statute of limitations for sexual offenses committed against minors was an unconstitutional ex post facto law.[2]



In 1994, the California State Legislature enacted a specific statute of limitations [ PC Section 803(g) (3)(A) ] for child sexual abuse crimes, allowing charges to be filed within one year of the time that the crime was reported to the police. This statute allows, when the prior limitations period has expired, criminal prosecution on child molesting charges many years after its occurrence. In 1998, petitioner Marion Stogner was indicted for molesting for acts committed between 1955 and 1973, under California's specific statute of limitations. This occurred after Stogner's two sons were both charged with molestation. During the State's investigation of one of the sons, Stogner's daughters reported that their father sexually abused them for years when they were under the age of 14. The grand jury found probable cause to charge Stogner with molestation of his two daughters.[3][4]

Stogner claims that this statute violates the ex post facto law and due process clauses by retroactively invoking laws that were not in place at the time of the alleged offenses. At the time the crimes were allegedly committed, the statute of limitations was three years. The victims, his two daughters, said they had not reported sooner because they were in fear of their father. The applicable California law had been revised in 1996, extending the statute of limitations retroactively.[2]


The retroactive implementation of the laws was the focus of Stogner's appeal, claiming that the law violated his rights under the ex post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution, as well as his rights to due process. The trial court agreed with Stogner, but the ruling was reversed by the California Court of Appeal. The trial court denied Stogner's subsequent motion for dismissal under the same grounds. Stogner appealed on writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeal of California, first appellate district; the Court of Appeal affirmed.[4][5]

Stogner appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court upheld the trial court's ruling, that the law was a violation of the ex post facto clause of the constitution by a split 5–4 decision.[2] The Supreme Court held that "a law enacted after expiration of a previously applicable limitations period violates the Ex Post Facto Clause when it is applied to revive a previously time-barred prosecution."[1]

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