Today’s blog concerns a legal issue that is evolving RIGHT NOW.
In Pennsylvania the House of Representatives approved a Bill that would greatly increase the statue of limitations for sexual abuse incidents.
In civil cases the statue of limitations would be increased from 12 to 32 years after the victim turns 18.
So a victim would have anywhere from 12 to 32 years years after he or she turns 18 to bring a lawsuit against the perpetrator of the sexual abuse.
The bill goes even further.
In a criminal case, the bill would entirely eliminate the statue of limitations.
This would put a sexual abuse crime on the par with a homicide case.
If passed, it would mean that the police could charge someone 50 years after an incident occurs without any fear of losing the case on a statue of limitations argument.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has already said that if the bill came to his desk he would sign the bill into law.
So what are the legal drawbacks to this?
1st it would seem to put an insurmountable burden on the defendant in a criminal case.
Consider proving an alibi defense for example.
If a priest or other defendant is accused of a single sexual abuse act that happened 40 years ago, how likely is it that the defendant will remember where he was on the date in question if he is trying to establish an alibi defense?
What about witnesses to the alibi? How are they supposed to remember if they were with the defendant on the crucial date?
Pittsburgh wrongful death, medical malpractice, slip and fall, car accident and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully also thinks the bill may an ex post facto law.
Ex post facto is just fancy legal talk for the prohibition in our Constitution against passing legislation after an incident occurs and having it relate back to alleged acts before the Bill became law.
I think most people understand that Courts would be very skeptical of allowing this type of legislation to be considered constitutional.
Regarding the civil side of this legislation, it would be a boom to plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers including myself.
I mean if we could go after these people who did these perverted acts long long ago, it is very likely that BIG settlements would result from the litigation.
But again I must ask the question do you think the Bill is fair?
There isn’t much sympathy for perverts who sexually abuse someone.
However America is a nation of laws and not of men. The basic principle of our society is that we follow the Constitution. Without it we would have anarchy.
And to allow legislation like this to pass as proposed is going to raise serious constitutional issues.
Anyway that’s how I look at it.
Hope you liked this article.
Bernie the Attorney.