Child Abuse Defense News by David S. Marshall
September 9, 2013
|New developments in law, medicine, and psychology affecting child abuse cases. For additional news and information, visit www.ChildAbuseDefense.pro.
Statute of Limitations Extended Again in Washington for Child Sex Crimes
For the second time in four years, the Washington Legislature has extended the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children. Prosecutions for Rape of a Child, Child Molestation, Indecent Liberties, Incest, and Sexual Exploitation of a Minor now may commence any time before the complaining witness turns 30 years old. The statute appears at Revised Code of Washington section 9A.04.080.
Early versions of the legislation sought to make the criminal statute of limitations roughly the same as the far more liberal statute of limitations for claims for compensation for childhood sex abuse, RCW 4.16.340.
Both would have been set at age 30. As the bill moved through the legislature, though, it was shorn of all but the extension of the criminal limitations period.
Among the functions of statutes of limitation is to provide defendants fair trials. When one is required to defend against a charge that one committed a crime decades ago, one's memory of the time will have faded, witnesses may have died or disappeared, and documents will likely have been lost.
Schools Ordered to Protect Children's Right to Presence of Third Persons at Investigative InterviewsThe Washington Legislature has ordered the state's school directors to develop a policy for providing companions to children who are interviewed at school by police and CPS. The legislature did so by passing Senate Bill 5316.
When police or Child Protective Services suspect a child has suffered abuse or neglect, they often interview the child about that at school. Most children can be readily found at school, and parents are not there to interfere with the interview.
Washington law has long required investigators to have a third person attend an interview of a child unless the child objects or the presence of a third person would jeopardize the investigation. As one parent testified during a hearing on this bill, this law is not always followed during interviews at school. The school directors are now required to develop a model policy so that the child's right will be respected.
The school directors' association is to consult with law enforcement and the Department of Social and Health Services in developing its model policy.
Closed-Circuit TV Testimony ExpandedThe Washington Legislature has authorized children to testify by closed-circuit television in circumstances not previously allowed.
When a court authorizes this procedure, a child witness testifies at a criminal trial without coming into the same room as the defendant. The defendant instead watches the child's testimony on closed-circuit TV. The purpose of the procedure is to get testimony about child abuse from children who otherwise would be too distraught to provide it. Courts have ruled the procedure does not violate a defendant's constitutional right to confront his accuser.
Until this August, the procedure could be employed in Washington only for children younger than ten. The new legislation increases the age limit to fourteen. It also adds two new types of case in which the procedure may be used: human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.
The revised law can be found at Revised Code of Washington section 9A.44.150.
|Child Abuse Defense News is a publication of www.ChildAbuseDefense.pro.
For additional information, contact David S. Marshall by phone at (206) 826-1400 or email at dmarshall@DavidSMarshall.com.
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Copyright 2013 David S. Marshall