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Does new legislation impede defendants charged with sex crimes?

 

Although mounting any criminal defense can seem overwhelming, allegations of criminal sexual conduct against adults involves special considerations. The reason is reputational: such crimes are often media fodder, and a defendant may feel like he or she is indicted in the public’s opinion before ever getting due process of law.

New legislation in the state of Washington may give an advantage to prosecutors. Specifically, Gov. Jay Inslee recently signed legislation that extends the statute of limitation for bringing charges of sexual assault against another adult. Previously, the statute was 10 years for rape, and three years for other sex crimes.

 

 

Opportunities for defensive strategy in sexual assault allegations

Our law office generally meets with clients in this situation to get a sense of their work and family situation. We understand that an arrest may carry repercussions, such as a suspension from work duties, but these may not be permanent. Pending a successful outcome at trial, a defendant may be able to rebuild much of his or her reputation. As your criminal defense attorney, we provide advocacy not only for your immediate defense, but also with an eye to the future.

There are also opportunities for defensive strategy even when confronted with damaging forensic or witness testimony. For the former, evidence might be excluded if the defense can prove that it was the result of improper police procedures at the scene where the evidence was collected, or improper procedures at the lab where the evidence was processed.

With the extended statute of limitations, there may also be opportunities for witness impeachment. If a witness is trying to recollect events that happened up to 20 years in the past, the defense may look for inconsistencies in the testimony or other logical fallacies.

Source: Chinook Observer, “New law erases or extends statute of limitations for various sex crimes,” Emma Epperly Apr. 19, 2019

 

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