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Prosecutors could get more time to bring rape cases

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Prosecutors could get more time to bring rape cases

Feb 26, 2024 | 8:03 pm ET
By Allison Allsop
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Prosecutors could get more time to bring rape cases
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Two bills that would expand how long cases of rape are eligible for prosecution in Louisiana advanced Monday from a legislative committee. 

The House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice approved House Bill 15, authored by Rep. Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans, and Senate Bill 9, by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton. 

The two bills are similar in the general scope of what they attempt to change but differ in the details. 

Boyd’s legislation would apply only to cases of third-degree rape, which includes non-consensual sex acts when the victim is not of sound mind, when the offender pretends to be someone the victim knows or when the victim is intoxicated and the offender should be reasonably aware. 

Under the bill, the calendar to prosecute the defendant begins only after the victim becomes aware of the rape occurring. 

Boyd said individuals who are drugged might not be aware of what occurred until years later when additional evidence resurfaces. 

Current state law restricts third-degree rape prosecutions to six years from when the incident occurred unless new DNA evidence is discovered. 

Mizell’s proposal would open the time window wider for all sexual offenses with time limitations. Her bill would extend the prosecution period if new video or picture evidence identifies a suspect.

Under the bill, prosecution must occur within three years of uncovering new evidence.  

Sexual offenses vary in time limitations based on factors such as whether a child was involved and the level of possible punishment.

Actual first-degree and second-degree rape do not have time limitations, so those would not be affected by this bill.

Both bills have the support of Sexual Trauma Awareness Response (STAR), an advocacy group for victims of sexual violence. 

This story has been updated to correct information on the extent of SB 9.