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Among the things I have learned from over 30 years of practicing law is that innocent people get charged and convicted of minor and serious crimes. It does not happen all that often, but it happens often enough, and especially in sex cases where so much is dependant on interpretation of actions and fragile and malleable human memories. The simple fact is that no matter how good our system is and no matter how hard we try to avoid that tragedy, it happens. It is unavoidable. But, that is a price we must be willing to pay if we are to have a criminal justice system. Everything has a cost, and not just financial. If the statute of limitations on sex crimes is eliminated, it is true that we will prosecute and convict a few more people who committed crimes long ago. On the other hand it is inevitable that there will an increase in the number of innocent people who will be charged, spend their retirement savings defending themselves, and then being convicted and going to prison for lengthy mandatory sentences, often for crimes that never occurred but which someone had come to believe had happened. Many, as happens now, will agree to the prosecutor’s plea bargain to either avoid prison or to receive a lower sentence. If the Legislature decides this a price worth paying, so be it. My only hope is that they actually accept that extending the statute of limitations will involve the conviction of some innocent people and all that entails.
posted 2 years, 1 month ago
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