A Maine man has been arrested and charged in connection with a murder and sex assault from 1986 in southern Connecticut. Statutes of limitations for criminal charges often have exceptions for certain types of crimes, with murder and sex offenses being some of the most common categories of excluded offenses.
Maine Man Arrested for 1986 Murder and Sexual Assault in Connecticut
On June 12, 2019, Maine police arrested a Stetson man in connection with the murder and sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl in Norwalk, Connecticut – an incident that had happened in 1986.
Locals in Stetson, a town outside of Bangor, had known that the suspect was a lifetime registrant on Maine's sex offender registry. However, that registration was a part of a sexual assault conviction in Connecticut in 1989. It was exacerbated by four other sexual assaults and kidnappings in Connecticut in the late 1980s.
If convicted of the new charges, it is likely to lead to a substantial prison sentence.
Statute of Limitations for Criminal Charges
Each state and the federal government has its own statute of limitations for criminal charges. These statutes force prosecutors to bring criminal charges within a set amount of time after an alleged criminal activity. Once the statute of limitations has expired, no charge can be filed.
These rules exist to allow suspects to move on with their lives without fear of facing prosecution after a certain amount of time and to ensure that the evidence against them would be fresh and the memories of witnesses clear.
However, like everything in the law, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations for criminal charges.
Statute of Limitations for Sex Offenses and Murder
Among the most important exceptions to the statute of limitations for criminal charges is when the alleged offense is especially severe. While each state handles the situation differently and includes different offenses within this exception, two crimes that nearly all states exclude from their statutes of limitations are sex offenses and murder.
Maine and Connecticut are among those states.
As a result, even when it has been 33 years since the alleged offense, prosecutors in one state can still extradite a defendant from another state and charge him with severe criminal offenses.
Most people are still going to nod their heads in agreement at this – the allegations are severe and justice needs to be served. However, with so much time between the event and the trial, memories will have faded and so much evidence will have been lost that there is a strong chance that justice will not be served as there is a real risk that the state of Connecticut is prosecuting a truly innocent person.
With so much uncertainty in the upcoming criminal process, the fact that the allegations and the potential penalties are so severe actually cut against allowing the prosecution to proceed. The process could end with extremely harsh penalties against someone we may not know for sure is guilty.