More than 800 rape cases in New York City are under special review after the city discovered that a technician made repeated errors while handling DNA evidence.
Some alleged rapists who may have believed that they got away with a crime, may find fresh charges pending against them. So far, the re-examination of the rape cases has found 26 sexual assault cases in which the technician incorrectly determined there were no traces of biological material on evidence, reports Reuters.
The technician has not been named. All the rape cases under review occurred between 2001 and 2011.
None of the 843 cases the technician at issue worked on resulted in a wrongful conviction, writes Reuters. Instead, the technician's alleged bungling of evidence apparently helped criminals more than anything else -- wrongfully exonerating many, or resulting in prosecutors not pursuing charges.
As a result of retesting, authorities say they have seven new DNA profiles of suspects and even a new criminal indictment.
If you are wondering if the technician's bungling of the cases -- which in some incidents occurred more than a decade ago -- may affect the prosecutors' ability to go after rape suspects, you should be aware that New York does not have a statute of limitations for rape in the first degree.
In other words, prosecutors can go after alleged first-degree rapists at any time, whether it be five years after the crime or even 30 years.
Typically, for most crimes in New York state, there is a five-year statute of limitations. This limitations period is to ensure that criminal charges are brought in a timely manner and to ensure that key evidence is preserved. However, for the most serious crimes like murder and rape, New York lawmakers removed the statute of limitations period altogether.
As the re-investigation into more than 800 NYC rape cases continues, it will interesting to see how many new charges may eventually be filed. It will also be interesting to see how the defendants attack the already once-bungled evidence.
- More than 800 NYC rape cases reviewed for mistakes (CNN)
- New York Rape Laws (FindLaw)
- Find a New York Criminal Defense Attorney (FindLaw)
- Sex by Impersonation Is Not Rape When the Woman Is Unmarried: CA Court (FindLaw's Courtside)