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The Statute of Limitations on Sex Crimes

October 24, 2017, on Sex Crimes |

Albany sex crime lawyers can provide you with legal representation if you are accused of committing any type of sex crime. The law takes sex crimes very seriously and some of the harshest penalties in the justice system are imposed for defendants convicted of these offenses so it is important to act quickly to get legal help if you are under investigation or charged with a sex offense.

Although the laws are already very strict regarding sexual offenders, some believe that they are not strict enough. In fact, there are calls to change the rules to make it even easier for prosecutors to pursue legal action against those who are accused of sex offenses.  Advocates are arguing that the statute of limitations should be ended for sex crimes so that those who are accused can be prosecuted at any time.

A recent Hollywood sex scandal has given renewed vigor to the campaign to end the statute of limitations, but there could be serious consequences if laws are changed so sex crimes can be prosecuted decades after they allegedly occur.

Advocates Argue That There Should Be No Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes

The Hollywood sex scandal involves Harvey Weinstein, a powerful producer who is accused of preying upon women for years.  Weinstein has been accused of a variety of actions, some of which could be viewed as sexual harassment and some of which could be considered to have crossed the line into sexual assault. In many cases, the instances that give rise to the allegations happened decades ago. 

According to Marie Claire, prosecutors reportedly began investigating Weinstein after allegations were raised; however, some of the alleged instances of criminal behavior likely happened so long ago that the statute of limitations in the states where the offenses occurred would be expired.  If the statute of limitations has expired, the time has passed for prosecutors to bring charges, even if witnesses are willing to cooperate and there is ample evidence of wrongdoing.

Many victims advocates argue that it is unfair for the statute of limitations to prevent prosecution of sex crimes just based on the amount of time that has passed. One key argument that is made is that victims of sexual assault often do not want to come forward right away or are frightened to speak up. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that women are more likely to be raped by someone with whom they have some type of relationship, rather than by a stranger. This can complicate things when speaking up could affect professional or family relationships.

However, while it is true that victims often wait to speak up in sex crimes cases, victims are not the only people who have legal rights. Those accused of sex offenses have rights too and they must be considered innocent until proved guilty.

If too much time has passed, evidence may be lost and people — including the accused — may not remember the events that occurred long ago. This could make it harder for a defendant to raise defenses, as, for example, his alibi witness may not remember that the accused was actually with him decades ago when the alleged assault happened.

Despite these downsides, some states have already ended the statute of limitations for sexual assault crimes and others may follow in light of this high-profile case. Anyone accused of an offense- especially when the events happened long ago- should consult with Albany sex crime lawyers as soon as possible for help.

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