And this is as true for a defendant as it is the victim. That’s because when cases are filed five, 10 or 20 years or more after an alleged crime, it becomes exceedingly difficult to challenge the veracity of the charges. Witness memories fade. People retire. Others die. Receipts that might have verified or disproved certain elements are gone. Records are trashed.
That’s why if you are accused of a Broward sex crime that involves years-old allegations, you must hire an experienced defense attorney to help ensure your rights are protected.
One such case was recently reported by The Sun Sentinel, involving a Pembroke Pines defendant accused of raping one child and molesting another two decades ago.
According to news reports of the case, 41-year-old Navin Rambarran is now being held in the Broward Main Jail on numerous sexual battery charges.
The arrest affidavit indicates a woman recently came forward to offer sworn testimony to authorities that she had been sexually abused by Rambarran when she was a child in the 1990s. The woman stated that the abuse started in another country, but continued after she relocated to the U.S. in Pembroke Pines.
At the time, police said, defendant was just 17-years-old while the alleged victim was in elementary school. The abuse reportedly continued until the girl reached puberty.
Then another woman reported to police she too had been sexually molested by defendant when she was a child and stopped when she was a teen. As a teenager, she told her then-boyfriend about the alleged abuse. Police interviewed him and he said he recalled the disclosure and that she would have flashbacks in her sleep.
There is no indication in the records or in news reports telling what may have prompted the women to come forward now.
An attorney for defendant told a newspaper reporter that because the investigation was ongoing, it was not appropriate to comment on the matter to the media.
Although you may have heard about statutes of limitation on Florida sex offenses, our criminal defense lawyers know there is no such time limit for sexual battery (F.S. 794.011) committed on a minor under the age of 16. If the sexual battery offense was a felony of the first-degree and the victim was under 18, there is also no statute of limitations.
This is one of the reasons we see these cases crop up many years after the fact. Beyond that, DNA science and other technological advancements mean it’s no longer all that unusual for jurors to consider evidence obtained back in the 1970s.
One factor that may work in a defendant’s favor is that evidence collection standards are much stricter today than they were many years ago.
Additionally, physical evidence may have been moved around over the years. This relocation and the natural degradation of materials may compromise its value.
All of that can leave prosecutors at a disadvantage.
But there can be many disadvantages for the defense as well. The New York Times published an article a few years ago that explored some of the challenges on both sides of the aisle. Reporters noted that not all old cases that came before the courts were due to new charges. In one instance, a 2004 death penalty case was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, which cited prosecutorial misconduct. Therefore, another trial had to be held to determine defendant’s penalty. Defense lawyers noted that mitigating evidence – which could be used to convince jurors to impose a more lenient sentence – would most likely come from character witnesses who had known defendant before prison. But by then, defendant had spent decades behind bars, and many who knew him before were either dead or had moved away or barely remembered him.
And that is often the biggest challenge: Not so much that the information is old as that it is incomplete.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Man accused in 1990s rape, molestation of two girls in Pembroke Pines, March 19, 2016, By Erika Pesantes, The Sun-Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Law Enforcement Uses Technology to Catch Suspects, March 5, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer Blog