Generally speaking, there are no provisions for a statute of limitations with regard to criminal matters in Australia, although statutes do exist for civil and property matters. If you find yourself accused of a crime long in the past, here are some steps to take to defend yourself.
Hire an experienced criminal lawyer
Whilst there is no statute of limitations, the prosecutor still needs to provide a reasonable case that they can prove that you committed the crime. An experienced criminal lawyer can help to exclude evidence that is questionable, such as eyewitness accounts that have varied over the years since the crime. Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable especially over a long period of time and other evidence can also vary and shift as memories change and less physical evidence is available. Having unreliable evidence removed from the case can increase your chances of success.
Gather any evidence from the time
Even if you aren't sure of what evidence you may have to refute the claim, this can be a good time to contact friends and acquaintances who may have some records of what you may have been doing at the time of the crime. They can also provide some context to the situation that you may not recall, such as previous conflicts or jealousies. Finding evidence such as concert ticket stubs or payslips can help to provide you with a start to create an alibi for the time of the offence.
Equally, if there is some physical evidence from the time on the victim, such as bruising mentioned in medical reports, it can be useful if your friends or family remember any context such as a car accident or fall before the alleged incident or consensual sexual relations.
Gather character witnesses to provide extra support
Over a long duration of time, there may be limited physical evidence of crimes that are committed. It can be useful to show that you have a history of being a useful member of society and have not committed any other offences over this time. If you have committed offences, it's useful to explain any context to these, such as drug addiction which you have conquered, in order to show that the crime is not in your character. While this may not prevent an offence, it can provide some mitigation when the judge considers the sentencing.
If you are accused of a crime committed a long time ago, you should get an experienced criminal lawyer who has a successful history in defending crimes over this time period. Contact a law firm like Russo Lawyers if you have more questions.Share
29 July 2016
My name is Jeanette Kennan. I have been a high school legal studies teacher for many years. As such, I am fascinated by legal cases I come across in the media. Family and friends often consult me about minor matters related to the law and although no expert, I can often point them in the right direction. It occurred to me that there may be other people out there who are not aware of basic legal issues. After all, you probably don't think about legal matters related to death, accidents or crimes until you find yourself in a crisis situation. This blog is designed to give you some introductory information about a range of legal topics. Hopefully, it will help you to be prepared and informed should a legal concern arise. I really appreciate you breaking in to my humble little site. Please enjoy.