Board Resolution ~ 05/01/2004(2)

Regarding Statutes of Limitations

Resolution of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Regarding Statutes of Limitations 

Nashville, Tennessee

May 1, 2004

WHEREAS state criminal charges, brought after memories of relevant events have faded and exculpatory evidence may have been lost or discarded, increase the risk of wrongful conviction of the innocent;

WHEREAS statutes of limitations, as the U.S. Supreme Court has observed, “provide predictability by specifying a time limit beyond which there is an irrebutable presumption that a defendant’s right to a fair trial would be prejudiced”;

WHEREAS statutes of limitations also serve the public’s interests in repose by “giving security and stability to human affairs” and effective law enforcement by encouraging prosecutors and police to exercise due diligence in investigating a case;

WHEREAS legislatures are increasingly abolishing or extending statutes of limitations in cases where DNA evidence is involved to the detriment of defendants whose means of defense might be impaired by the passage of time;

WHEREAS the existence of DNA evidence does not eliminate the rationales for statutes of limitations and, in particular, an individual should not be deprived of his or her ability to mount a defense simply because his or her genetic material was present at the crime scene;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers opposes the abolition and extension of statutes of limitations.

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