New Proposal to Affect Sexual Assault and Battery Cases in Texas

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 in Criminal Issues | 0 comments

During her run for Texas governor, candidate Wendy Davis announced a proposal to nullify the statute of limitations on sexual assault and battery cases in the state. The proposal was in part a criticism of her Republican opponent Greg Abbot, then the Attorney General, in what Davis characterizes as “siding” with a defendant in a liability case when Abbot was on the Texas Supreme Court panel.

Political agenda, if any, aside, the proposed bill will have a considerable impact for all parties involved in sexual assault and battery cases in Texas. Davis referred to the backlog in the of processing rape kits for months, even years after the fact, as “offensive” and that victims are being penalized for the state’s shortcomings when they are denied the right to have their cases heard because the statute of limitations has run out. The statute of limitations for sexual assault and battery in the state is 10 years.

However, the statute of limitations is imposed for good reason. Defendants in a criminal case are often under a cloud of suspicion even before they have had a chance to air their side of the story. In the case of sexual assault and battery, there are often no witnesses to the crime, so it is a double-edged knife. As pointed out on the website of Mark T. Lassiter, just as the victim cannot always prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime happened, the defendant cannot prove that it didn’t happen. This is why it is important for an individual accused of a crime to have a competent criminal defense lawyer handling the case.

To remove the statute of limitations for what too often could be a case with no merit means that the named defendant would live in uncertainty and unspoken suspicion for life. To say that in such cases that a formal charge would be a welcome relief would not be exaggerating. At the very least, it would put an end to fruitless speculation and result in some type of resolution, hopefully a just one.

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