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DNA - A Prosecutor’s Practice Notebook Inventory

Statute of Limitations

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When a cold case is reopened, prosecutors must first determine what charges are applicable for the crimes involved and if any controlling statute of limitations is about to expire. This analysis may call upon a prosecutor to think outside the box to determine what charges may still be viable for indictment.

Increasingly, states have enacted legislation to expand the period in which prosecution can be brought after a database hit has been reported.  Federal statutes have been adopted which eliminate the statute of limitations for certain felony sex offenses generally (See, 18 U.S.C. 3299) and which suspend the statute of limitations until  there has been a DNA identification (See, 18 U.S.C. 3297).  Alternatively, a John Doe warrant may be used to toll the statute of limitations.

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