Should There Be No Statute of Limitations on Rape in California?
In the wake of the Bill Cosby sexual assault allegations, California Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) is proposing a bill that would significantly change rape laws in the state. If passed, the bill would eliminate any statute of limitations for rape cases.1
What is the Statute of Limitations on Rape in California?
In criminal cases, a “statute of limitations” is a time limit on how long prosecutors can wait before bringing charges against you. The clock starts from the moment you allegedly committed the crime. Once that period has passed, you can no longer be prosecuted for the crime.
The current statute of limitations for rape is generally 10 years from the date of the alleged incident.2 However, exceptions exist that allow prosecutors to bring charges past the 10-year mark, including cases where prosecutors discover new DNA evidence or if the crime constitutes aggravated rape.
Should Rape Have No Statute of Limitations?
According to Leyva and proponents of the bill, the current statute of limitations is problematic because many rape victims wait years before reporting the incidents. Often, rape victims feel shame, embarrassment and fear, so they fail to report the crime immediately. Leyva says that only two in 100 rapists are actually convicted due in large part to the statute of limitations.3
What Leyva does not note is why statutes of limitations exist in the first place. Convictions often rely heavily on witness testimony, but humans are fallible. Over time, one’s memory becomes distorted and unreliable. When criminal charges have no expiration date, it increases the chances that wrongful convictions are made. Opponents argue that the proposed law may be going too far considering the DNA exception that already exists.
Will the Bill Become Law?
The General Assembly and the State Senate must both pass the proposed bill before it’s presented to the governor. Leyva’s proposal will be introduced in next month’s legislative session. If it passes in both houses, the bill will then be presented to Governor Brown. He can either veto the bill, sign it into law or not sign it so it becomes law.
If Governor Brown chooses to veto the bill, it can still be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both houses. The fate of the proposed law is expected to be determined very soon.
Call the Rape Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Now
If you or a loved one has been charged with rape, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing rape charges for over 30 years. We will meet with you immediately to review the facts of your case, and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the best outcome possible.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
2 See In re White, 163 Cal. App 4th 1576 (2008)