Criminal Defense Statute of limitations

by | Apr 16, 2019 | Criminal Defense

One major aspect of criminal defense cases is the statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania, like many other states around the United States, set what are known as statute of limitations on certain crimes. rape Essentially a statute of limitation is the time period in which the prosecutor may bring charges against an individual. If the time period elapses over the set limit, then charges cannot be filed. It may seem unusual to set a time period for when a person can and cannot be charged with a crime, but statutes of limitations are put in place for a good reason. They are put in place to ensure that the evidence that applies to a certain case, is protected against degeneration. Witnesses to crimes may die off, move or their memories of the event may fade if charges aren’t filed in a timely manner. Blood samples and other key pieces of evidence may be misplaced when filing or deteriorate over time.

right to a speedy arrestIt is important to note in criminal defense cases that some crimes do not have a statute of limitation. These crimes are typically more serious and usually involve serious bodily injury or death.  This includes all types of homicide, but namely for 1st and 2nd degree murder. While rape is a serious violent crime, there are statute of limitations on it. In the state of Pa, the statute of limitation on a rape charge is 12 years. Again, it may seem unusual to set a time limit on a crime, especially on a serious offense such as rape, but it is in place to ensure that the evidence is protected and up to date. You do not want to convict the wrong person based on old out dated evidence. For offenses that involve children, the time starts to run when the child reaches the age of 18. For example, if a child is sexually abused at the age of 12, the 6 years between 12 and 18 do not count for the statute of limitations. For lesser offenses such as misdemeanors, the statute of limitations is typically 2 years. While statute of limitations may seem unusual to have especially for serious sexual offenses, they are in place to ensure that the right people are convicted using the right evidence.

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