Can Someone Be Charged with Additional Crimes After the Victim Remembers More?

BY : Chastaine | Jones
Written by: Chastaine | Jones

In California, it is possible for someone to be charged with additional contemporaneous crimes if a victim remembers more conduct at a later date, provided that the statute of limitations has not expired for those specific offenses.  

The key factors to consider in this scenario include the statute of limitations, the nature of the additional conduct, and any evidence or witness statements that may support the new charges. 

Here are some of the factors to consider: 

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations sets a time limit within which criminal charges must be filed for a particular offense. If the statute of limitations has not expired for the newly remembered conduct, prosecutors may pursue additional charges. We will briefly examine instances of sexual assault as an example. 

Sexual Assault of a Minor Under 18 Years Old: 

For certain sexual offenses involving a minor under 18 years old, including child molestation, there is typically no statute of limitations. This means that charges can be filed at any time, regardless of how much time has passed since the alleged offense. (California Penal Code Section 799). 

Sexual Assault of a Minor Under 21 Years Old: 

For certain sexual offenses involving a minor who was under 21 years old at the time of the offense, there is a longer statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for these cases typically expires when the victim reaches the age of 40, or within 10 years of the offense, whichever is later. (California Penal Code Section 801.1). 

Victim's Memory

A victim's recollection of previously unreported or forgotten details can lead to the discovery of additional criminal conduct. If the victim provides credible and reliable information about specific acts that constitute criminal offenses, law enforcement may investigate and bring charges accordingly. 

If there is corroborating evidence or witness testimony to support the victim's recollection, it may increase the likelihood of charges being filed. 

Prosecutorial Discretion

Prosecutors have discretion in deciding whether to pursue criminal charges based on the available evidence and the interests of justice.  

The Defendants' Rights

Individuals facing new charges will always have the right to mount a defense, challenge the credibility of the victim's recollection, present argument and evidence in their defense, as well as to confront witnesses against them in court. 

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