Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin Harding and Mazzoti.
Melissa: With only days left in this legislative session, Governor Cuomo and state legislatures have set their sights on removing the statute of limitations for criminal rape cases. And here to help examine this proposal is managing partner, Paul Harding, from the law firm of Martin Harding and Mazzoti. Paul, welcome back.
Paul: Thank you, Melissa.
Melissa: Thanks for being here. So what’s the purpose of removing the statute of limitations here?
Paul: Yes. So statue limitations is the timeframe you have whether civil or criminal to bring a claim. And if you choose to not bring the claim within that time period, you’re forever barred. So the theme is we’ve got victims that never see their day in court so they’re looking at extending the statute of limitations in perpetuity for certain rape cases.
Melissa: Okay. Now, wasn’t the statute of limitations in rape cases already removed?
Paul: Well, it was for rape 1, and so rape 1 decades ago, they got rid of the statute limitations, but the majority of the cases are rape 2 and rape 3. We see statutory rape, things like that, and that had a five-year statute of limitations. So we’ve got victims who maybe don’t come forth and if they wait five years, they can never do it.
Melissa: So what would change under this proposal?
Paul: Well, so you’ve got victims, advocates groups that are kind of up in arms because they say, “Listen, evidence 20 years later is not the same evidence you had today and so you’re gonna be facing a crime and making it difficult to defend.” So I think what we see here is there’s gonna be a balance between victims rights and then the defendant’s rights and again, the fear of putting the wrong person in prison goes a lot to really curtail. So we’re gonna see what happens statutorily here, how are they going to work this out.
Melissa: Now, why hasn’t this been done sooner?
Paul: Well, you know, it’s I think right now there’s been just change and, you know, the culture is kind of waking up and saying, you know, these victims have been somewhat stifled by statute of limitations and so I do see this passing, I just really do. But I guess the other flip side is there’s always that argument that we just can’t have the wrong person convicted and time has a way of people’s memories fading, evidence fading. So there’s always a counterbalance but I think right now the time is right to see this passed.
Melissa: All right, well, it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. Paul, thank you for being here.
Paul: You’re welcome.