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With DNA, is the Statute of Limitations obsolete?

 
 
Reply Tue 10 Aug, 2010 11:22 pm
A statute of limitations is an enactment in a common law legal system that sets forth the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated. In civil law systems, similar provisions are usually part of the civil code or criminal code and are often known collectively as "periods of prescription" or "prescriptive periods."

The concept of statute of limitations was created long before DNA was available. Frequently, lesser crimes are not tried before a judge or a jury if the indictment process is not started before the expiring of the statute of limitations. For example, a recent case of a rape before the use of DNA was denied a trial because the rapist's identity was not discovered within the statute of limitation. In another case, a women was denied back pay because she did not learn before the statues of limitation expired that men earned more money than women.

There is reasonable need for the statute of limitation to assure that crimes are are prosecuted in a prompt time, as described below:

Common law legal system might have a statute, for example, limiting the time for prosecution of crimes designated as misdemeanors to two years after the offense occurred. Under such a statute, if a person is discovered to have committed a misdemeanor three years ago, the time has expired for the prosecution of the misdemeanor. While on one hand it may seem unfair to forbid prosecution of crimes that law enforcement can now prove to the standard required by law (cf., e.g., Beyond a reasonable doubt, Clear and convincing evidence, and Preponderance of the evidence), the purpose of a statute of limitations or its equivalent is to ensure that the possibility of punishment for an act committed sufficiently long ago cannot give rise to either a person's incarceration or the criminal justice system's activation. In short, unless the crime is exceptionally heinous in nature, social justice as enacted through law has compromised that lesser crimes from long ago are best let be rather than distract attention from contemporary serious crimes.

But DNA has changed the methods of identifying criminals. This lack of DNA information can often be a justice block for victims.

What do you think? Is it time to revise and make fairer the statute of limitations?

BBB
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,190 • Replies: 8
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plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Aug, 2010 04:55 am
Good question.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Aug, 2010 05:32 am

No
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BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Aug, 2010 06:02 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
There was a case of the first black police office kill by a rifle shot in the 1930s or so in Miami and the person who did so was never found.

Someone after all those decades pointed a finger at a gentleman living in New York City and the local police send some men to interview him and was able to fool him into confessing as he did not have a clue that the statute of limitations did not apply such a murder.

After they arrested him it turn out that the first black police office had have a habit of beating up the local black teenagers for no reason and that the elderly man who as a very young teenager had shot him had have a perfect law abiding life after this event with great grandchildren.

In the end they allow him a plea deal so he could return home.

Sometimes it does no serve justice or commonsense to reach too far into the past.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Aug, 2010 08:16 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
BumbleBeeBoogie wrote:
But DNA has changed the methods of identifying criminals. This lack of DNA information can often be a justice block for victims.

What do you think? Is it time to revise and make fairer the statute of limitations?

Illinois already has made an allowance for advances in DNA technology in connection with sex crimes:

Quote:
(720 ILCS 5/3‑5) (from Ch. 38, par. 3‑5)
Sec. 3‑5. General Limitations.
(a) A prosecution for... (2) any offense involving sexual conduct or sexual penetration, as defined by Section 12‑12 of this Code in which the DNA profile of the offender is obtained and entered into a DNA database within 10 years after the commission of the offense, may be commenced at any time. Clause (2) of this subsection (a) applies if either: (i) the victim reported the offense to law enforcement authorities within 3 years after the commission of the offense unless a longer period for reporting the offense to law enforcement authorities is provided in Section 3‑6 or (ii) the victim is murdered during the course of the offense or within 2 years after the commission of the offense.

In simpler terms, if the victim reported the crime within three years, and the offender's DNA was entered into a database within 10 years, then there's no limit on the time in which the state may initiate a prosecution of the offender. I imagine that other states may have enacted similar legislation.
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BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2010 07:22 am
This thread seem interesting however it does not seem to be going anywhere for some reason.

Now let look at this from the viewpoint of given that technology such as DNA that now allow us in some cases to go back many decades and find the a guilty person should we do so.

Not can we do so but should we do so at least in a large numbers of cases.

In the case of the young teenage boy who kill the police officer in a moment of rage for being beaten almost a lifetime ago, is locking up the law abiding old man he had turn into for his last few years worth it or benefit the society or is "justice".

After decades had gone by should we just drop most criminal matters even if we now have the power to do otherwise?
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2010 09:26 am
@BillRM,
The points you made are among the reasons why I started this thread.

DNA has made a significant difference in our judicial system. A number of convicted people, mostly men accused of rape, have been freed as a result of DNA. Many rapists have been discovered if the DNA evidence could or was received within the statute of limitations.

There is a TV show "Cold Case" that is based on cases that may rely on the statute of limitations, usually for murders. Why should other classes of crimes be denied?

BBB
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2010 11:52 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
Quote:
Why should other classes of crimes be denied?


My question do we gain more then we lose by digging up matters decades old where the person involve in a crime twenty/thirty years ago is not normally the same person as he or she was as a must younger person.

In the US we already have a larger percent of our total population in prison then any other country in the history of the world so what do we gain by spending the funds to find. tried, and lock up people who are likely to now to useful citizens for criminals misdeed that had occur in the dim past? A large percent of people normally age out of criminal behavior studies had shown.

The idea seem in any case largely a misused of the society resources unless you are talking about murder and or other crimes at the very end scale of serous misdeeds.

Finding and locking up a man who had say rob a bank in the 1970s and had have no contact with law enforcement over the decades following seem not to be a useful used of resources when we need to hunt down and lock up current bank robbers.
0 Replies
 
bosstownmike
 
  0  
Reply Thu 20 Sep, 2018 10:21 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
In criminal procedure DNA evidence can only be used in very limited types of cases.
If you're a convicted felon in The United States you are obliged to have samples taken or you'll be in custody until you do & be charged with another felony, one sample goes to The FBI one goes to the State Police.
The cases that DNA can be used are
Murder, Rape & certain instances of missing people.

Otherwise if DNA is used it's a scare tactic or inadmissible in a court of law without being volunteered; if its volunteered then that's okay it's kind of like if you allow the cops to search your vehicle/home that isn't a violation of your rights.
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