Criminal and Family Law

Criminal and Family Law

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No Statute of Limitations in Homicide Cases

By February 25, 2013Criminal Defense

Civil lawsuits and criminal charges must be brought within a specified period of time, known as the statute of limitations. It is best to prosecute cases when the evidence is fresh, especially witness testimony. In Utah, the statute of limitations for misdemeanors is two years, and criminal charges range from two to four years. However, as in other states, capital murder, manslaughter, and some other felony crimes are exempt from any statute of limitations

Steven Daniel Lucero was charged with first-degree felony murder in October 2012, five years after he was interrogated after the shooting death of Juan Ochoa in 2007. Although Lucero owned a car that matched the description of the getaway vehicle, there was not enough evidence to charge him. This changed when confidential informants came forward with information that Lucero had talked about shooting Ochoa.

It is understandable that the courts treat heinous acts like murder differently, but presenting convincing evidence in a cold case like this one is challenging. Forensic crime scene evidence, such as blood spatters on the getaway car, is more credible than the testimony from an eyewitness or informant. In fact, the more we learn about how memory works, the less reliable it becomes. A person may have a clear memory of witnessing an event, but will not be aware of unconsciously receiving other pieces of information that might have altered the original memory. We tend to think our memories are like photographs or videos, but our brains are constantly photoshopping and editing these memories.

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