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The Champion

April 2016 , Page 05 

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From the President: Statutes of Limitations Are an Essential Safeguard to Preserve the Accused’s Ability to Defend

By E.G. Morris

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In United States v. Marion, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Sixth Amendment provides protection for the accused from prejudice resulting from delays in bringing a case to trial only for a defendant who has been charged and held to answer for the accusations. Delay in bringing charges after the commission of the offense does not implicate the Sixth Amendment speedy trial guarantee and only runs afoul of the Fifth Amendment due process clause if the delay was intentional to gain a substantial tactical advantage over the accused.1 Although the courts of some states have reached a different result on state constitutional grounds,2 Marion is followed by most jurisdictions.

The Marion Court recognized that “[p]assage of time, whether before or after arrest, may impair memories, cause evidence to be lost, deprive the defendant of witnesses, and otherwise interfere with his ability to defend himself.”3 It observed that statutes of limitations provide the primary gu

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