Is There a Statute of Limitation for Crimes?

Most states have enacted statutes, which limit the time in which crimes can be prosecuted. These time limits are referred to as “Statutes of Limitations.” Once the statute of limitations has expired, it becomes an absolute bar to prosecution. Out of the fifty states in the nation, only two do not have a statute of limitations when it comes to criminal cases. South Carolina and Wyoming.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitation is a law that prevents a person or government agency in a criminal case from charging someone with a crime that was committed more than a certain period of time after the incident. The purpose of a statute of limitation is to make sure convictions occur only upon evidence that has not deteriorated with time and it protects the defendant from malicious claims from a person after the fact.

Not all crimes are covered

Murder and certain felonies involving the death of a person are not covered under the statute because such protections would reach an unjust resolution and promote a public policy for defendants to have an incentive to flee and or hide. Granting this protection to a person criminally responsible for the death of another would mean that the defendant could simply hide from the authorities fort a certain length of time and then forever be barred from facing their actions.

Other crimes and misdemeanors are not covered such as in California and Arizona crimes involving public money or public records have no statutes of limitation. While in Colorado, treason has none.

  • Florida Code Section 775.15
  • California code Section Pen. §§799 et seq.
  • Colorado Code Section 16-5-401

What is tolling?

Statutes of limitations are designed to benefit the defendant. A plaintiff, however, can prevent the dismissal of his action for untimeliness by seeking to toll the statute. When the statute is tolled, the running of the time period is suspended until some event specified by law takes place. Tolling provisions benefit a plaintiff by extending the time period in which he is permitted to bring suit.

Sex crimes and DNA evidence

In recent years, there have been efforts to eliminate statutes of limitations for sex offenses generally and child sex offenses specifically. These movements are often based on the premise that victims have been hurt and scarred for a lifetime and criminals should not escape punishment. There are practical considerations, however, that complicate this approach.

Some states have no statute of limitations on felony offenses, no statute of limitations on sex offenses, no statute of limitations on child sex offenses or extended statute of limitations for sex offenses. Several states have also chosen to enact statutes which toll (extend) the statute of limitations based on DNA identification.

Examples of states that toll based on DNA evidence include:

  • Arkansas Code. Ann. § 5-1-109(b)(1)(B) & (H) DNA tolls for 15 yrs. (rape cases only)
  • California. Penal Code §§799-803.6 1 yr. from the date identity is established by DNA. Applies to sex offenses and other offense.
  • Colorado Rev. Stat. § 16-5-401(1)(a) the identity is determined by DNA within 10 years after the offense, there shall be no limit on the period of time during which a person may be prosecute.
  • Connecticut Gen. Stat. § 54-193a the SOL is tolled for 20 years for sex offenses

If you have questions about the statute of limitations in a criminal case whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony charge, call a trusted and experienced Charleston criminal defense lawyer to help.

Is the Constitution Dead for US Citizens Labeled As a Sex Offender?

The US Constitution, with the Bill of Rights, is supposed to protect life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness to ALL its citizens. However, for a certain section of the US citizenry, namely those labeled as registered sex offenders, any such rights become largely absent, with more restrictive laws being passed locally, statewide, and nationally. These people have served their time in incarceration and paid their restitution, and yet they are subjected to harsher social ostracism for decades, even for life in several states.

Let us look at how far the United States has come with the gradual chipping away of the Constitutional rights for the people labeled as sex offenders.

1st Amendment – In certain state/s, like North Carolina, it is illegal for anyone registered as a sex offender to visit social websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Such laws further isolate these people from their family and friends who live away from them.

These people are required to disclose their identity in a church or religious places where they attend. This creates an environment of suspicion and discomfort for everyone. Moreover, such requirements infringe upon a person’s right to practice a religion freely and peaceably.

It is generally illegal for them to assemble with each other. Such restrictions stifle their voices from being heard by precluding them from organizing a protest. Social media laws also prohibit them from expressing their concerns or issues in wider social forum.

Generally, there is a lack of fact-base and honest discussion in news media regarding the sex offender issue. Meanwhile, few cases are hyped to bring about even harsher laws across the board in the registry. This only reflects the lack of freedom of press in a broader spectrum for people in the registry.

2nd Amendment – It is generally illegal for people with a felony to possess a firearm, which precludes them from exercising their constitutional right to protect themselves, their family, and their property using firearms.

3rd Amendment – N/A

4th Amendment – Apart from their regular sentences in incarceration, people convicted of a sex crime usually serve additional sentence in a form of Post Release Supervision for many years which is similar to probation. People who are in Post Release Supervision are subjected to any searches and seizures without the need for a warrant or a probable cause. This is apart from the sex offender registry itself which sets its own restrictions on a place of residence, work, social associations, etc.

5th Amendment – People who are in the Sex Offender Registry have already served their mandatory minimum sentence in incarceration. The registry, with its inherent restrictions and requirements, is a form of additional penalty. However, decades or even lifetime of additional punishment is not considered as a double jeopardy or a cruel & unusual punishment. This reflects gross injustice against them in the society.

Sex offenders are also subjected to become a witness against themselves (http://mynorthwest.com/244967/court-state-violated-fifth-amendment-rights-of-sex-offender-steven-powell/)

6th & 7th Amendments – The notion of sex crime is such that people are generally predisposed to crude preconceived notions regardless of a crime or whether any victim was involved. Sex offender registry has become so broad that petty offenses like public urination, public nudity, underage teenage consensual sex, underage teens having their nude photograph in their phone, adult consensual sex in a beach, etc. can all land someone in the sex offender registry (https://www.hrw.org/report/2007/09/11/no-easy-answers/sex-offender-laws-us). With the overwhelming negatively in the society, people labeled as sex offenders are more likely to be convicted in a trial and receive harsher judgment.

8th Amendment – Bail system in this country is a multi-billion dollar business, and bails are generally handed out in our courts like candies during Halloween. People accused of a sex crime are generally more likely to receive higher bonds due to fear and social stigma.

9th Amendment – Those who are in the sex offender registry are restricted to travel freely. They need prior notification and permission to travel. More restrictions are imposed upon those under supervision or probation.

In the states like Florida where sex offenders are marked in their driver’s license, they are more likely to face discrimination even in minor incident such as a routine traffic stop or while booking a hotel room. Also with the recent expansion of the International Megan Law, sex offender passports can be marked. This has opened new doors of restrictions or discrimination against sex offenders abroad, even physical harm to them and their families traveling with them.

10th – 27th Amendments – N/A, except for the infringement upon the right to vote in some States, especially those under probation or supervision.

Why You Must Choose Your Sex Crime Attorney Carefully

Perhaps more so than any other form of criminal activity, sexual charges can bring the wrath of society down on a person. Particularly when that criminal charge involves a child, the penalties – both legal and otherwise – can ruin a person’s life. That’s why it is so imperative that you carefully choose a sex crime attorney if you have been charged with such an offense. No worse mistake can be made than hiring a lawyer who has no experience with this type of charge. Just as the criminal activity itself is a highly specialized and unique form of crime and the punishment is unique, the defense too needs to be unique and aggressive.

Prison time is only one concern when it comes to being charged with a sexual deviance form of transgression. Your reputation will take a huge hit, one that is not likely to recover even if you are proven not guilty in a court of law. It may be difficult to find a job again-particularly one that is worth anything. Compounding the problem, many states have determined that offenders should be placed in a directory and that residents of a neighborhood have the right to know where sexual criminals live. With all of this at stake, it makes no sense to go into court with anything less than the best sex crime attorney you can find. Not only will they fight for your freedom, they can advise you on the best route to take to get your life back together.

Some people look at this type of talk and are repulsed. They wonder why a sex crime attorney would choose to spend their lives defending who they consider to be the sickest kinds of criminals in existence. But what they may not realize is how unfortunately broad the subject is. Examples include people being charged with indecent exposure (usually some sort of drunk and disorderly conduct, but it turns into a sexual charge in many instances), teenagers being charged for having consensual sex or “sexting” with other teenagers, statutory rape cases, and an enormous ocean of false charges. These people deserve representation. Not only as a matter of the U.S. Constitution, but as a matter of human decency.

When it comes to hiring a sex crime attorney, experience and a proven track record is what you should be looking for. Seek out someone who has been in the trenches, understands the law backwards and forwards, and will do their best to see that you get justice.

Common Questions About Age of Consent Laws Answered

In United States, ages of consent for sexual activity varies by jurisdiction. The age of consent is the age at or above which a person is considered to have the legal capacity to consent to sexual activity. If a child is younger than the specified age, he or she cannot consent to sex unless they are married to the person with whom they are having sex. The laws can sometimes result in questions like those below.

Q. Can one parent stop the other legally from allowing their 16 year old child to have sex in case of joint custody?

Having sex is not considered as a crime if the act is consensual and the child has reached the age of consent. So one parent cannot legally stop the other parent but may object the way the child is being brought up by the parent who has custody. In such a case, the other parent may ask the court to reconsider custody.

Q. In North Carolina, if a young 16 year old girl gets pregnant by a 34 year old man, what legal help do the parents of the girl have?

In North Carolina, the age of consent is 16 years. Once the teenager has given birth to the child and paternity is established, the father of the new born may have to pay for child support as per the court’s order. He may also be ordered to pay for some of the medical expenses.

In case the teenager gets an abortion done, she may not get any compensation. The parents still have the right to keep their 16 year old with them and the man may be obliged to support only the baby and not the 16 year old.

Q. If a 13 year old girl and a 15 year old boy have sex, is it considered illegal in Pennsylvania?

In the Pennsylvania statues, according to Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses), individuals between the ages of 13 and 16 may legally have sexual intercourse with persons between the ages of 13 and 17, and vice versa. To be illegal with consent, the “complainant” must be at least 13 years old and the “actor” must not be more than 4 years older than the complainant.

Indecent assault and other charges that deal with improper contact with a minor can be brought against the offender if the child is less than 13 years.

Q. Is it legal for a 25 year old to have a sexual relationship with a 17 year old in Rhode Island since the age of consent there is 16 years of age?

A sexual relation between a 25 year old man and a 17 year old girl is considered legal in Rhode Island because the age of consent is 16 years. But if the girl changes her mind about having sexual intercourse with the man, she may charge him with raping a minor.

Q. What legal recourse do parents whose 13 year old daughter is dating a 20 year old have in Montana?

The age of consent for sexual activity is 16 years in Montana. A child younger than that cannot consent to sex unless he or she is married to the person who they have sex with. However, that does not stop the younger child from dating the adult, as long as they do not have any sexual relations. So in order to prove that the 20 year old man is going against the law, one would need to prove that he was having a sexual relation with the 13 year old. If this is proven, the man could get arrested and charged with rape. However if it is not proved that intercourse actually occurred, the guilty could be charged with sexual abuse of a child.

There are cases where the accused reasonably believed that the minor was at least 16 years old. There is a law creating a defense to statutory rape in such situations. But, that defense cannot be used if the victim is less than 14 years old or if there is evidence that the accused knew that the child was less than 16 years of age.

Q. While the age of consent is 16 years in Rhode Island, the “law is repealed” for homosexuals. What does that mean?

The law is repealed for homosexuals means it has been invalidated. Despite the fact that the age of consent in Rhode Island is 16 years, the law applicable for homosexual relationships have been cancelled.

The minimum age of consent and its laws vary from state to state. These laws are made to protect minors and people from sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation. These laws primarily state that such young children and people below the specified age of consent are not emotionally mature enough to indulge in sexual activities. It is best to ask Family Lawyers about the law of age of consent in your state in case of any doubts.

Why Do We Lawyers Defend Sex Offenders?

As a New Jersey criminal attorney who defends people accused of Megan’s Law offenses such as child molestation, Internet predation, child endangerment, wrongful sexual touching, child pornography, luring and aggravated sexual assault upon a child, I am frequently asked, “How can you represent somebody who did such a thing?” The answer is that I enjoy it.

To begin, it is important to remember that criminal lawyers endorse neither the crime nor the alleged criminal. Our job is to examine, and then challenge or discredit, potentially incriminating evidence produced by the state against our client. This is the only way to ensure that the police and the courts give everyone the full protection of our legal system. We prevent them from convicting defendants until after the state has proven guilt beyond a doubt.

Our sexual offense clients are flesh-and-blood people to us, not mere names in a newspaper article or faceless monsters. They may be anyone. Male or female. A pillar of the community or a scofflaw drifter. A first-time defendant or a repeat offender. Some earn millions of dollars, others are unemployable. But they are all people who are very afraid, and rightfully so. We understand that. Our sexual offense clients are not just numbers and statistics any more than their alleged victims are. They are someone’s child, parent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, best friend or neighbor. Each is entitled to the protection of the Constitution. In Megan’s Law cases, even that protection needs protection.

The vigorous defense of an alleged child abuser, internet predator, or child pornographer not only protects the defendant’s Constitutional rights, it protects the Constitution itself. Experienced defense lawyers look for defects in the government’s case violating a person’s rights and allowing unreliable evidence into the case. Did the defendant have an attorney at all critical stages? Were all searches and investigations legally performed? Was the arrest Constitutional? Was a confession voluntary and informed? Was there entrapment? These protections are not loopholes through which guilty defendants might slip. They are fundamental protections built into our justice system that help ensure the fairness of a prosecution and the validity of a verdict.

People accused of child sex abuse are in particular need of these protections. Despite the Constitution’s declaration that they are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, in reality they are presumed by almost everyone to be guilty, even before the evidence is known. Friends stop calling. Family members keep their distance. Employers downsize them. Customers go elsewhere. Once a person is charged with a sex crime, his life will never be the same, even if no evidence is ever produced. No other crimes are like this.

Representing alleged sex offenders is a defense attorney’s special challenge. A Megan’s Law defendant may have committed reprehensible acts. Perhaps he didn’t. The prosecution will work hard to prove that he did. The defense will scrutinize and analyze that proof. We will present it in the light most favorable to our client. We will voice his every defense. But defense lawyers do not judge defendants. Juries do that. We just ensure that the Constitution continues to work… Our pleasure.