Statutes of Limitations (Part 3)

by | Jul 10, 2022 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The three-judge appellate panel concluded with the following in relevant part: The State’s initial rationale finds no support in the law. There was no reason preventing the State from filing charges in 2013, when Inna reported the crimes and defendant was incarcerated in Pennsylvania. As defendant correctly asserts, the State could have sought an indictment, acquired custody of defendant, and brought him to trial under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD), N.J.S.A. 2A:159A-1 to -15. “The IAD’s purpose is ‘to encourage the expeditious and orderly disposition of such outstanding charges and determinations of the proper status of any and all detainers based on untried indictments, informations, or complaints’ and to provide ‘cooperative procedures’ for making such determinations.” State v. Perry (2013) (first alteration in original) (quoting 18 U.S.C.A. app. 2, § 2, art. I; N.J.S.A. 2A:159A-1). Thus, had the State charged defendant in 2013, the matter could have proceeded to trial at that time.

Nonetheless, the State’s apparent ignorance of the law does not necessarily suggest it delayed prosecution to gain a tactical advantage over defendant or that it acted in reckless disregard of his ability to defend against the charges. Indeed, allegations of a sexual nature, in the absence of DNA or other forensic evidence, do not generally strengthen over time. Most often, these crimes are committed in secrecy, outside the presence of eyewitnesses, as Inna alleged in this matter. The same can be said for the State’s belated claim that the matter essentially fell through the proverbial cracks. As stated, however, we conclude, without deciding the first Townsend prong, defendant failed to demonstrate actual prejudice by the State’s delay.

The Court’s reasoning is strained with regard to the State being “ignorant” of the law. Case law requires us to assume that everyday lay people are imputed with a knowledge of the law. Our Courts should impute at least that much knowledge to the trained legal professionals that are tasked with enforcing the law.