Is there a statute of limitations for Nebraska sex assault cases?
While most criminal charges have a statute of limitations preventing the government from charging a crime after an unreasonable amount of time, there is no statute of limitations for first degree sex assault or any sex assault on a minor.
This means new sex assault allegations rising from incidents that took place decades ago could be prosecuted. The implication is that a person with a family, career, and life could be arrested for an allegation from an incident that took place in high school – no matter the timeframe between the allegation and the event.
What is a statute of limitations?
A statute of limitations is a time limit on the filing of a lawsuit. If a suit is not filed within the time frame set in the state, it cannot be filed.
Criminal defense lawyers view the statute of limitations differently than civil lawyers. Most civil lawyers are concerned with when the suit should be filed while criminal lawyers know that every day that a criminal case is not filed, the more likely it is that it will never be filed. Not all criminal cases result in criminal charges, and many investigations do not pan out into filed charges. Police and prosecutors rarely tell a criminal attorney that the investigation is over or report the findings of their investigations to the accused.
In Nebraska, the statute of limitations for misdemeanors is 18 months and most felonies are five years.
While there is a statute of limitations on misdemeanor third-degree sex assault, there is no statute of limitations on allegations involving sexual penetration or minors.
Federal crimes have a 5-year statute of limitations for some offenses. However, some crimes such as murder, rape, and forgery have no statute of limitations under Nebraska law. Furthermore, if there is a continuing course of criminal activity over several years (as is common in felony theft cases), the statute of limitations does not begin until the criminal conduct ends.
What about the right to a speedy trial?
In Nebraska, the accused enjoys both a constitutional and statutory right to a speedy trial. However, this right is not implemented until charges are filed. If criminal charges for an alleged rape are not filed for 20 years, the length of time between the alleged crime and the trial are irrelevant. What matters is the length of time between the time the charges are filed and the trial. This can make defending a sex assault case difficult because over the course of 20 years, potential evidence is often lost, and witnesses may disappear or forget details. In sum, the right to a speedy trial has little to do with the statute of limitations.
How can I fight delayed accusations?
When it comes to sex assault cases, it is crucial to hire a criminal defense lawyer to best ensure your rights will be protected. The prudent course of action is to contact a criminal attorney the moment you learn of the accusation.
If you or someone you know has been charged or is being investigated for sex assault allegations, contact the relentless criminal defense attorneys at Berry Law.