In the wake of the viral “Me Too” movement that swept across social media in recent years, many state and local jurisdictions have taken a second look at their current sexual assault laws to determine whether changes should be made. Connecticut is the latest state to pass legislation concerning sexual misconduct laws. The Connecticut legislature recently voted to pass a bill that would make a number of changes to state law, including extending the statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual assault charges.
Disagreement Among House Members
Though the bill passed unanimously in the Senate, the vote in the House was not as one-sided. The bill passed by a vote of 121-23, with those 23 naysayers expressing worries about the changes to the law. One member suggested that a person’s memories are not always accurate as time goes on, and a longer statute of limitations could mean that a person may be accused of sex crimes based on untrustworthy testimony. Another member was concerned with the bill’s possible interference with the constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial. Proponents of the bill have stated that lengthening the statute of limitations helps the victims but does not detract from the rights of the accused, because the burden of proof will remain the same.
Current Laws on Statute of Limitations
Under Connecticut’s current laws, the statute of limitations in cases concerning sexual misconduct vary depending on a couple of different factors. Class A felonies have no statute of limitations — they can be prosecuted at any time. These crimes include first degree sexual assault when force or the threat of force is used and the victim is under the age of 16, first degree sexual assault when the victim is under the age of 13 and the perpetrator is more than two years older than the victim, first degree aggravated sexual assault when a victim is under the age of 16, and aggravated sexual assault of a minor. Sexual assault or abuse cases that are not Class A felonies typically have a five-year statute of limitations, while misdemeanor cases typically have a one-year statute of limitations.
Proposed Changes to Statutes of Limitations
The new law would extend the statute of limitations for Class B, C, and D felony sexual assaults in which the victim is above the age of 21 from five years to 20 years. For victims between the ages of 18 and 20, the statute of limitations will be 30 years after the victim’s 21st birthday. For misdemeanor charges, the statute of limitations would increase from 1 year to 10 years.
A Connecticut Criminal Defense Attorney Can Answer Your Questions
Sexual assault can be one of the most serious crimes you can be charged with. You may face years in jail and extensive damage to your reputation and personal relationships if you are convicted of sexual assault, and accusations can come years after the alleged incident. If you are facing criminal charges related to alleged sexual misconduct, you need a Hartford, CT sexual assault defense lawyer who understands the laws and knows the best strategies for defense. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can provide you with over 20 years of trusted legal experience. Call our office today at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.