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Bill Eliminates Statute of Limitations In DNA Cases

Feb 2, 2006 |

Violent criminals would he held accountable for their actions by closing a loophole that allows them to escape prosecution and punishment for their crimes after five years in a bill passed by the Senate is signed into law.

"There is no statute of limitations on the pain and anguish constantly endured by the victims of violent crimes, and there should be no statute of limitations on prosecuting the barbaric criminals who commit these heinous crimes," said Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. "We must eliminate the five year statute of limitations so we can ensure that criminals are prosecuted for their crimes and brought to justice.  These measures are commonsense public protection. I hope the Assembly will act on them so we can get a result from the process, prosecution for the criminals and justice for the victims."

Legislation (S.5342) passed by the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Dean Skelos (R, Rockville Centre), would eliminate the statute of limitations period in criminal cases where the identity of the offender is established by means of DNA evidence. Under current law, rapists and other violent criminals can escape prosecution when charges are not formally brought up within five years. Presently, only prosecutions for murder and other violent class A felonies are exempt for any statute of limitations.

"Rape and sexual assault are violent crimes committed by violent people," said Sen. Skelos. "If DNA evidence is available, there is no reason why these criminals should escape prosecution merely because they were lucky enough not to get caught. These crimes have a lifelong impact on their victims and an arbitrary five year period should not dictate the administration of justice."

"Since 1996, the Senate has passed 10 different bills that would extend or eliminate the statute of limitations, but Assembly leadership has failed to allow these bills to the floor for a vote," said Skelos. "With the remarkable advances in DNA technology, there is no sound reason to allow these dangerous criminals to use a loophole to evade justice. I urge the Assembly to join with us to get this legislation enacted."

The bill would also:

1) require offenders adjudicated as youthful offenders to provide a DNA sample for inclusion in the State DNA Databank;

2) make it a crime when a designated offender fails to provide a DNA sample; and add the new crime of aggravated perjury.

The Senate also passed legislation (S.6524), sponsored by Skelos that would eliminate the statute of limitations for certain class B violent felonies.

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