Legal Question in Criminal Law in California

Can a person who alleges sexual assault/abuse that has occurred 10 years ago, and no longer resides in the state of the allege incident, press chargers from or with the new state that he/she now resides? Or, does the alleged victim, have to come back to the state of the actual occurrence and press charges in that state?

Asked on 11/10/13, 12:35 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

First off, unless the victim was a child at the time, the limitations period has probably run out. There may be reasons why it hasn't, but don't be too surprised if it has. Even if the case isn't technically time-barred, after ten years the evidence may be too unreliable.

Second, only the government can decide whether to charge someone with a crime. Laypeople often believe the victim makes this decision, but that's not how it works. The victim (or a third person) can ask the prosecutor to bring a case, but the prosecutor can decide not to. The prosecutor also has the power to bring a case even if the victim wants him to let it go.

As to the substance of your question: Only the state where the crime occurred has jurisdiction over it. The laws of that state govern, the prosecutors of that state will decide whether to act, and the courts of that state will handle the case if there is one. The victim's current state has nothing to do with the crime. The victim does not actually have to travel to the other state in order to make a report, but she almost certainly will have to in order to testify against the attacker.

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Answered on 11/10/13, 3:25 pm

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