The statute of limitations is a very important concept within North Dakota criminal law. Although the length of time will vary from charge to charge, it protects individuals from being criminally prosecuted years or even decades after an alleged crime took place. Two nurses who were arrested and charged with drug crimes claim that their charges should be dropped because they fall outside the statute of limitations for the supposed crime.
Authorities claim that the two hospice nurses stole medication from patients, provided less effective drugs to some and diluted certain medications. The alleged offenses supposedly went on from Dec. 2012 to Sept. 8, 2014. They were not charged until Aug. 31, 2017, which they argue falls outside the three-year statute of limitations in the case of felony offenses.
The prosecution disagrees with this claim, citing that the facility did not discover the problems with patient medication until Sept. 5, 2014. According to them, this falls within that statute. The issue the defense takes with this is that many of the alleged offenses occurred long before Sept. 2014, meaning that they would fall outside the three years. They also argued that the prosecution allowed three years to pass before they filed charges, which violated their rights to due process. Many of their possible witnesses were elderly and in hospice care, so the availability of reliable witnesses has been impacted.
Being criminally charged can be terrifying. Many defendants do not understand that facing charges for drug crimes does not erase their rights. Each and every defendant in North Dakota has due process rights that must be upheld and respected throughout the entire criminal court proceedings. In many cases, defendants choose to protect these rights through the use of experienced and knowledgeable counsel, who can provide guidance through an understandably difficult process.