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Andrew Cohen: Statute of Limitations Non Issue in Prosecuting Jaycee Dugard's Alleged Captors

(CBS13)
Photo: Jaycee Lee Dugard

CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen blogs about the statute of limitations in the Jaycee Lee Dugard case.

NEW YORK (CBS) There may be some valid legal defense for the man and woman who allegedly kidnapped Jaycee Lee Dugard 18 years ago. But the argument that the statute of limitations has run out on any prosecution won't be one of them.

Photos: The Search For Jaycee
Photos: Jaycee Lee Dugard Found Alive
Photos: Inside Jaycee's Terror Tent

Whether Nancy and Phillip Garrido are charged with kidnapping, or rape, or child molestation, or some combination of both, prosecutors won't be barred from proceeding to trial just because the initial crimes may have occurred way back in 1991. In California, and most other states, the limitations for these sorts of crimes are triggered when the victim is found and tells the police of the abuse.

The police and prosecutors have one year from the time they learn of the crimes to bring charges. In this case, it looks like the Garrido's are going to be arraigned just days after Dugard was located.

Moreover, it appears as though Garrido was on some sort of federal parole for prior sex crimes, which means that he won't be entitled to all of the presumptions of innocence guaranteed in our Constitution to those not convicted. In other words, Garrido begins his criminal case in far worse legal shape than most defendants.

Judging from the bizarre, rambling comments Garrido offered after his arrest, Messianic phrases that practically scream cultist, I suspect we'll see at some point some sort of insanity defense. Or maybe defense lawyers will claim that Dugard is not mentally competent to stand trial (just like what happened with one of the defendants in the Elizabeth Smart case). And obviously Dugard's testimony will be crucial for prosecutors as they piece together a case.

Do we have a case of Stockholm syndrome, which sometimes occurs between the kidnapped and kidnappers? Or will Dugard's first-hand account of her decades with Garrido incriminate both him and his wife. We'll know soon.

Photos: The Search For Jaycee
Photos: Jaycee Lee Dugard Found Alive
Photos: Inside Jaycee's Terror Tent

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August 27, 2009 - Sex Offender and Wife Arrested in Jaycee Lee Dugard Disappearance
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(CBS)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Cohen is CBS News' Chief Legal Analyst and Legal Editor. He covers legal issues for CBS News, CBS News Radio, and hundreds of television and radio affiliates around the country. He is a Murrow-Award-winning "recovering attorney" who has provided commentary and analysis for the network since 1997.

  • Andrew Cohen

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