Friday, December 10, 2010

Massachusetts Supreme Court OKs "John Doe" Indictments

Massachusetts OKs John Doe Indictments 

The Hope is to Close More Cold Cases

By: Joseph Giacalone

The Supreme Court of Massachusetts has authorized their district attorney's to indict a DNA profile in order to stop the statute of limitations.  Commonly referred to as a "John Doe" Indictment, this move allows the district attorney's office to prosecute perpetrators years later - usually for the crime of rape.  Other states such as New York, were already using the "John Doe" Indictments for years.

For investigators, this is good news and bad news.  The good news is that the indictments will offer the ability to close more cases in the future and put violent perpetrators away without worrying about limitations. However, it relies on the basis that the suspect actually re-offends and that a DNA sample is taken upon conviction on another case.

The bad news is that once a True Bill (Indictment) has been handed down, it comes with an absolute right to counsel - meaning the police cannot interrogate the suspect unless his lawyer is present.  Here is the investigator's catch 22, they want to stop the limitations, but risk losing the valuable admission or confession they can obtain from an interrogation.  Further bad news is that as the case gets colder, the less likelihood the case will be prosecuted anyway.  Over time, victims and witnesses die, evidence can be lost or destroyed, case folders get lost, detectives retire, etc.   

Read the full article here

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