In North Carolina, as well as in 15 other states, felonies have no statute of limitations, meaning that someone can report a rape that he or she says occurred decades ago. By and large, this lack of restriction is friendly to victims and can be a good thing.
However, it does open up even more possibilities of fabricated rape charges. For instance, when a couple is locked in a custody fight or a divorce battle, one of the spouses can make very serious accusations that the police are required to investigate. In a state such as New Hampshire where there is a statute of limitations in place, law enforcement would not get involved if the alleged rape or sexual assault was more than six years in the past.
Public opinion matters
It goes without saying that an accusation of rape, particularly when you are least expecting it, can be devastating. For one thing, there is the matter of public opinion. Newspapers may carry your mug shot and detail the charges. You could lose your job. Your marriage could be in jeopardy-all over something that may not have even happened.
Add to that the fact that a long-ago case may be harder to prove. Legally, this could be good for you but hurts in pretty much any other aspect. You will always have the specter of the accusation hanging over your head. People may always wonder. No matter if you are accused of rape, indecent liberties or child sexual abuse, you could have a hard time finding employment. A Google search of your name five years from now could still bring up the allegations.
There are often many effects stemming from a job loss. For instance, you are bringing in less money or perhaps no money at all. This may cause you to miss rent or mortgage payments, thus leading to you losing a house or apartment. You might have to use your credit card more, adding to your financial woes. If your spouse does not want to live with you anymore, you may have to rely on the mercy of others to provide you with a home. If you have joint custody or visitation with your children, the lack of a home for them to stay in could have repercussions.
In short, an accusation of sexual assault from a long time ago can have real and immediate consequences. Dealing with law enforcement and with any charges can be a complex process. Consulting with an attorney as early as possible can help ensure your interests are upheld.