After 43 years, two families finally have some closure on the deaths of their daughters, as two men were arrested for the murders of the girls in mid-September 2016. As CBS Sacramento reported, DNA evidence and improved forensic testing helped investigators solve the cold case in March 2014. Over two years later, police located both men and made the arrests; one man was still living in California, while U.S. Marshalls assisted law enforcement with apprehending the other man in Oklahoma. Considering that more than four decades had passed since the murders, you may question how criminal charges can still be pending against the two men. The answer deals with application of the California statute of limitations, which covers an array of criminal cases.
Statute of Limitations – The Basics
A statute of limitations is a law that governs the amount of time that the State of California has to bring criminal charges against you. If the statute of limitations has expired, a criminal case cannot proceed; however, if the time period has not lapsed – even if it’s just by a day – prosecutors and/or law enforcement can press charges.
Reasoning Behind the Statute of Limitations in California
In the criminal law context, the statute of limitations is justified because of the unfairness that would result to a potential defendant if a trial is delayed. If a considerable amount of time has passed since the alleged crime, evidence may be an issue. For example, some physical evidence may no longer exist or is not intact in its prior form. When someone buries a knife, it deteriorates after a several years. There’s the possibility that the evidence on the knife could clear a criminal defendant, but the world won’t know because it’s been destroyed.
Plus, witness evidence is impacted by the passage of time. Eye witnesses may not remember key details of your case or may contradict themselves when questioned years later. In addition, it’s always possible that a witness may relocate or pass away, making it difficult or impossible to use their statements in court.
Statute of Limitations for Crimes in San Diego
The statute of limitations varies depending on the severity of the crime. There is no statute of limitations for:
· Crimes carrying the death sentence or life imprisonment; and,
· Embezzlement of public funds.
The government must file charges within six years for offenses punishable by prison time of eight years or more. For any other matter involving prison time, charges must be filed within three years. In misdemeanor cases, the statute of limitations is one year.
San Diego Cold Case Murder Cases
Currently Ozols Law Firm is murder case that is 14 years old. 14 years ago a little boy went missing at a park when his father went to get something from the vending machine, 14 years later the father was charged with Murder. These types of cases are called “cold cases” and they are very tough to handle. If you have a cold case it is almost best to call a skilled attorney to help you to defend that case.
Application of the California statute of limitations depends on a number of different factors besides the type of crime, so the time period involved isn’t absolute in criminal cases. An experienced criminal defense attorney has the legal knowledge to determine whether you have a defense or an exception to the statute of limitations. If you’re facing charges where the statute of limitations is in question, please contact a qualified criminal attorney in San Diego who will fight for your rights and help you navigate criminal proceedings in California.
Ozols Law Firm
8880 Rio San Diego Dr. #22
San Diego, CA