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Minding statutes of limitations in criminal defense

In our last couple posts, we’ve been looking at recent news related to investigations against Bill Cosby, particularly the possibility that he could be facing charges, possibly for perjury, and perhaps even for sexual assault. As we pointed out, any such charges will involve issues with statutes of limitations, since the offenses in question occurred a number of years ago.

Statute of limitations issues are obviously an important issue in criminal defense, and can impact prosecutors’ ability to move forward with charges. Different types of offenses, naturally, involve different statutes of limitations lengths, and as we’ve noted, different states set their own lengths for each type of offense. Having a good handle on the rules is essential to protect one’s rights. 

From a criminal defense perspective, it is important to make sure that statutes of limitations are correctly applied in terms of when the time starts tolling. Although many states have rules allowing for the extension of statute of limitations tolling in cases where an offender is later identified through DNA evidence, Maryland does not. The reason for this is that there is, as we noted last time, that there is actually no statute of limitations for serious sexual assault cases.

That being said, lesser sex offenses do have a statue of limitations here in Maryland, though no DNA exception exists for such cases. In any case, those who are facing sexual assault charges should always work with an experienced criminal defense attorney, not only to make sure that statutes of limitations are properly applied, but to ensure their rights are protected through the entirety of the criminal process.

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