Legislators at California’s state assembly recently passed a bill that aims to remove the time limit for bringing rape and sex crimes in court. Under existing California criminal laws, charges of rape and other sex crimes may be barred if these are not prosecuted within 10 years of the discovery of the offense. For similar offenses committed against children younger than 18, the prosecution of the crime must take place before the alleged victim reaches 40 years of age.
If passed by the senate and signed into law, defendants may no longer be entitled to raise the statute of limitations as a sex crimes defense.
California Statute of Limitations for Crimes
California’s statute of limitations, as applied to crimes and offenses, are specified time limits for the prosecution to bring charges against a defendant. The time limits for prosecuting charges can be found in Sections 799 to 805 of the Penal Code. These time limits vary, depending on the gravity or nature of the offense charged.
Minor crimes that are punishable with relatively short jail sentences or light penalties will typically have shorter statute of limitations than more serious crimes. Heavier offenses such as murder and those that are punishable by death or life imprisonment are imprescriptible and may be brought at any time.
The rationale behind the statute of limitations is to prevent the injustice that a delayed prosecution could bring on a defendant, such as when key evidence against the prosecution may have been lost or destroyed through time.
When Statute of Limitations Start to Run
The statutory period starts only when the offense or crime is discovered or should have been discovered. So, if you are charged with a sex crime that allegedly occurred a long time ago, it’s possible that the prosecution may be barred from bringing the charge to court. Depending on the specific circumstances of your situation, an experienced criminal defense attorney may also be able to block any attempt to delay the commencement of the statutory period by showing the earliest time when the alleged offense should have been discovered, rather than its alleged actual discovery.
Sex offenses are serious charges that carry life-changing consequences. It’s important to speak to a criminal defense attorney at the earliest opportunity. Your lawyer can examine the charges, weigh the evidence against you, and set up appropriate sex crime defenses in your situation.
Working out of Los Angeles, the lawyers at Gurovich Berk & Associates have years of criminal law defense experience with proven results. We encourage you to call us at (213) 385-1555 to discuss your case with one of our friendly attorneys.