The Statute of Limitations defeats the purpose of our justice system


In 1982, a man broke into a University of Oklahoma student’s apartment in Norman, Oklahoma, threatening and raping the women. At the time, the victim identified Thomas Webb as the rapist  and he was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the crime. He was then deemed innocent and in 2006, Gilbert Harris was revealed to be responsible after his DNA was entered into the national database by law enforcement in Louisiana. However, the statute of limitations on the rape had run out and he was dismissed, getting away with his horrible crime.

The statute of limitations is a law in the United States where a time is set to investigate a crime. This can include rape, murder, and forgery. After a set time runs out, anybody who is convicted of a crime cannot be charged or punished “whether or not the evidence supports them or not.” This can range from one year to even fifteen.

While not all states have this law set in place,  several people defend its use in our legislation. Many who side with its place in our justice system say that it gives a set time and gives a greater pressure to solve a case while it’s fresh in people’s minds. Many find it necessary in order to more quickly solve the latest crimes,  but does it justify the amount of people getting away with crimes because the charges were dropped? Or the evidence that can’t be used against somebody because police and investigative officials were too late? Does the statute of limitations really belong in our justice system today?

What makes the statute of limitation laws an issue is that those who could have been found guilty are likely to get away with their crimes because of the time limit. Many crimes, especially ones involving rape, aren’t reported immediately out of pressure. The National Center for Victims of Crime claims that only 46 percent of rape crimes are reported and only 9 percent result in prosecution. As stated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, “Out of every 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk out free.”The fact that these numbers are so low should encourage our justice department to omit the Statute of Limitations of any crime as it gives them time to solve their case and brings justice to those who fear prosecution. Too many people are allowed to get away with their crimes, giving a lack of closure for the victims.

A documented crime should be given its fullest attention until somebody is proven innocent or guilty as opposed to letting crimes go because of a petty time limit. Solid evidence can be difficult to get together and that’s why we need as much time as we can get to gather it. Time limits make the case seem increasingly insignificant as time approaches rather than putting  pressure on the officials assigned to the case to get it solved. like the opposing side believes,New discoveries are made all the time about old cases. By dropping these cases because the victims did not speak out to law officials or took deals to keep quiet, it makes the whole justice system seem worthless in the eyes of the victim and defeats the purpose of prosecution.

Recently, our country has constantly dropped charges on a number of serious crimes. Celebrities and politicians who committed crimes often get to legal action against them. For example, Al Franklin had recently resigned from office after receiving accusations of assault, but so far hasn’t faced any criminal charges despite an investigation being called for. Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has even stated in regards to these events that “this kind of behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated anywhere in our society.”

These charges could still have been solved through the right amount of analysis but were given up instead due to the set time limits. According to the Uniform Crime Reporting program, an average of 63 percent of murder offenses, 40 percent of forcible rape offenses, and 56 percent of aggravated assault offenses were cleared by law.

With the recent wave of sexual assault accusations coming into the light, many assaulters have been facing punishment and ridicule, yet they can’t face any legal action for their crimes because of the Statute of Limitation guidelines. It prevent him from facing serious criminal action. This benefits the assaulter and leaves the assaulted with no justice.