Last Thursday, two Colorado women who claim Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them appeared before Legislators asking to extend the statute of limitations in which felony sexual assault charges can be filed. In this context, the statute of limitations is “a statute establishing a time limit for prosecuting a crime, based on the date when the offense occurred.” STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014).
Currently, the statute of limitations for sexual assault in Colorado is ten years. Mr. Cosby’s accusers would like to see it doubled to twenty years.In other words, prosecutors would have twenty years from the date of the alleged sexual contact to file charges. The law wouldn’t be retroactive, and therefore the two Colorado women accusing Mr. Cosby would still be barred by the statute of limitations. The bill passed Committee unanimously and now the bill is going to the Full House for consideration.
However, in spite of the legislative intent, the more time that passes before charges are brought, the harder it may be for prosecutors to make their case. Some members of the defense bar have spoken out about extending the statute of limitations. As time passes, so does the possibility of spoliation or destruction of evidence, witnesses disappearing, or other factors that could make proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt more and more difficult for prosecutors. Just recently, Colorado caught up to testing their backlog of rape kits – an estimated 6,283 rape kits were untested and sitting in various evidence lockers around the state. It took two years and millions of dollars to get caught up – and that was with a ten year statute of limitations.
If you or a loved one have been accused or victimized by sexual assault, you need an experienced legal team to help manage the turbulent times ahead. Call the Criminal Justice Practice Group at Feldmann Nagel for all your legal needs 1-(888) 458-0991.