A statute of limitations is basically a time limit for when you can be prosecuted for a crime. If the statute of limitations expires, you can no longer legally be charged for that crime.
Statutes of limitations are most prominent in sex crime cases. However, a new California law essentially eliminates statutes of limitations on sex crimes, meaning you could be prosecuted for a sex crime decades after the alleged incident took place.
Eliminating Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes
Senate Bill 813, a new law that went into effect at the beginning of 2017, ends the statute of limitations on felony sex offenses. This means charges of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation and other sex crimes can be brought against you at any time after the alleged crime took place.
Previously, felony sex crimes generally had a 10-year statute of limitations, meaning you could not be prosecuted for the crime if more than 10 years had passed since the incident allegedly took place. However, there were significant exceptions for sex offenses.
These exceptions included when DNA evidence linking you to a sex crime was discovered and, in cases where the alleged victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the offense, after the victim’s 40th birthday. The new law takes these exceptions a step further and completely eliminates the statute of limitations.
The law applies to crimes committed after Jan. 1, 2017, and crimes where the statute of limitations was in effect prior to Jan. 1, 2017 and had not expired before that date.
Why Pass SB 813 Now?
Statutes of limitations exist as a way to preserve the integrity of the judicial process. Proving someone is a guilty of a crime becomes more difficult as evidence deteriorates and memories of witnesses fade.
However, recent cases suggested that the statute of limitations for sex crimes needed to be eliminated, including multiple sexual assault allegations made against comedian Bill Cosby. Several women came forward with claims that Cosby had sexually assaulted them as far back as the 1960s, but criminal charges could not be pursued due to the statute of limitations on these crimes.
California Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) proposed the bill to significantly change how the state prosecuted sex crimes. Leyva and the supporters of the law felt that sexual assault victims would often wait years before reporting criminal offenses, either due to shame, embarrassment or fear. She praised the bill’s passing into law by saying it proved that California was standing behind victims and that they should not be afraid to come forward.
Contact the Sex Crimes Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime, you, the best thing you can do is contact a skilled and knowledgeable sex crimes defense attorney right away. At Wallin & Klarich, our criminal defense attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing serious sex crime charges. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Los Angeles, West Covina, Torrance and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us now at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.