A statute of limitations exists for most crimes because it is important to limit the amount of time a victim has to come forward and make accusations. It is not fair for people to live for years wondering if they may one day be accused of a crime from decades ago.
When too much time passes between the alleged commission of a crime and the time the case is prosecuted, it also makes it difficult or impossible to build an effective defense. The accused may not remember what happened so long ago, evidence may be lost, and witnesses may not be easily located or, if they are found, their memories may be hazy.
Despite the many valid reasons why a statute of limitations exists, proposals have repeatedly been put forth in New York that would allow for criminal and civil cases to be made against certain types of offenders -- even if a long time has passed.
Now, News 10 is reporting that yet another effort is being made this year to lift the statute of limitations on sex assault crimes. If this effort is successful, a defendant could find himself accused and forced to deal with claims of wrongdoing from decades ago. Building an effective defense will be a challenge, and a New York sex crimes defense attorney should be contacted for help as soon as possible.
Under current New York law, those who claim they were sexually abused as children have until the age of 23 to come forward and bring charges against their alleged abuser. However, victims and advocates believe this is too short of a time because it is often difficult for victims to work up the courage to come forward and speak up about what happened.
For years, there have been efforts to eliminate the statute of limitations and this year there is a renewed push to make a change. A bill, called the Omnibus Child Victims Act, would eliminate the statute of limitations and would allow a so-called one-year lookback on past cases so victims could file civil claims against alleged abusers within a one-year period, regardless of how long ago the abuse actually happened.
News 10 reports that the Omnibus Child Victims Act has been introduced to lawmakers. Supporters of the Act gathered in a rally outside of the senate to express their opinion to lawmakers on the importance of the Act. One man who helped to organize the rally indicated he had been a sex abuse victim left unable to pursue justice against his abuser because of the statute of limitations. He believes New York is behind other states and needs to adjust the law.
Similar proposals have been defeated in the past, in part because of powerful opposition from organizations like the Catholic church. It remains to be seen if the proposal will be successful this year or if it once again will not become law, despite efforts to change the rules. If the statute of limitations is lifted and you face claims that you did something wrong, The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC is here to help. Contact us today.