San Diego Sex Crimes: Can I Be Prosecuted for Rape If It Happened Years Ago?

sex crimes in san diegoBeing accused of a crime in San Diego is frightening enough all by itself. Suddenly being accused of a crime that allegedly took place many years ago can be even more terrifying, yet it can – and often does—happen to people. Sex crimes, in particular, frequently do not result in an accusation until long after the alleged offense actually occurred. Not surprisingly, we are often asked “Can I be prosecuted for rape of it happened years ago?” The simple answer to that question is “yes”.

Though many San Diego sex crimes result in an immediate arrest of a suspect, not all do. Some crimes take months, even years, for the police to investigate before an arrest is made. Still other crimes don’t result in an immediate arrest because the alleged victim doesn’t come forward until a significant amount of time after the alleged crime was committed. This is most likely to occur in the case of sex crimes or child molestation. A victim may not report being sexually assaulted, molested, or raped until years after the fact. In some cases the victim does not come forward initially out of fear of the alleged perpetrator. A child victim may not come forward until he or she is an adult. In some situations, an alleged victim may claim that he or she repressed the memory of the attack, causing a delay in reporting the crime. Regardless of the reason, it is far from unusual for a sex crime such as rape to be reported years after the alleged commission of the crime. So where does that leave the alleged perpetrator?

Many crimes are subject to a statute of limitations, or SOL. One purpose of a SOL is to ensure that an accused isn’t forced to try and defend a crime that occurred so long ago that any evidence and/or witnesses that might exonerate the accused have disappeared. California does have SOLs for some sexual crimes; however, others can be prosecuted at any time. Aggravated sexual assault, for example, has no SOL in California. Just to complicate matters further, sexual assault (non-aggravated) does have a SOL but that SOL can be waived is a DNA test can conclusively prove the defendant did it. Likewise, child molestation has a SOL, in theory; however, if a child doesn’t mention the molestation until after the SOL then the State of California may still be able to prosecute when the child (or adult now) does make the accusation.

The bottom line is that if you have been accused of rape, or any other sex offense, you need to speak to an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney immediately. Do not assume that the case cannot be prosecuted if the alleged crime occurred many years ago.






Domenic

Domenic J. Lombardo (Attorney at Law), graduated from University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.), earning a B.A. in Economics-Business, before graduating with his J.D. from University of California, Hastings School of Law. He passed the California Bar Examination on the first try, and immediately began practicing as a criminal defense attorney in San Diego, California. Mr. Lombardo worked as a defense lawyer at the San Diego Office of the Public Defender from 1991 to early 1996. He opened his own firm in 1996 where he practices to this day focusing exclusively on defending criminal matters.
About Domenic

Domenic J. Lombardo (Attorney at Law), graduated from University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.), earning a B.A. in Economics-Business, before graduating with his J.D. from University of California, Hastings School of Law. He passed the California Bar Examination on the first try, and immediately began practicing as a criminal defense attorney in San Diego, California. Mr. Lombardo worked as a defense lawyer at the San Diego Office of the Public Defender from 1991 to early 1996. He opened his own firm in 1996 where he practices to this day focusing exclusively on defending criminal matters.

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