Sex crimes and statute of limitations – yet another blow to judicial limits
On September 28, Governor Brown signed into law a provision that eliminates the Statute of Limitations for certain sex offenses (CA Senate Bill 813). Currently, the statute of limitations is governed by CA Penal Code 803. For the most part, the statute of limitations is either 10 years and can be as long as 10 years from the alleged victim’s 18th birthday.
The new bill would eliminate a statute of limitations for rape (CA Penal Code 261), sodomy, and lewd or lascivious acts (CA Penal Code 288). The only other crime that has no statute of limitations currently is murder.
Obviously, proponents of the new law cite the need for victims to get justice. What they failed to consider is that there is a good reason for the statute of limitations. Victims of crime in general deserve vindication but there is no effort to eliminate the statute of limitations for all crimes. This is so because a criminal conviction requires fresh memory and an availability of defense witnesses. Such is the case for theft cases and such is the case for sex cases. Perhaps someone should ask governor brown how he would find a witness for an incident that occurred 20 years ago, that could alter the course of someone’s life 20 years later. If this questions is posed, perhaps he won’t be so quick to assuage every political pressure put upon him.