Stogner v. California, 539 U.S. 607, 3 (2003)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Cite as: 539 U. S. 607 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court.

California has brought a criminal prosecution after expiration of the time periods set forth in previously applicable statutes of limitations. California has done so under the authority of a new law that (1) permits resurrection of otherwise time-barred criminal prosecutions, and (2) was itself enacted after pre-existing limitations periods had expired. We conclude that the Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause, Art. I, 10, cl. 1, bars application of this new law to the present case.


In 1993, California enacted a new criminal statute of limitations governing sex-related child abuse crimes. The new statute permits prosecution for those crimes where "[t]he limitation period specified in [prior statutes of limitations] has expired"—provided that (1) a victim has reported an allegation of abuse to the police, (2) "there is independent evidence that clearly and convincingly corroborates the victim's allegation," and (3) the prosecution is begun within one year of the victim's report. 1993 Cal. Stats. ch. 390, 1 (codified as amended at Cal. Penal Code Ann. 803(g) (West Supp. 2003)). A related provision, added to the statute in 1996, makes clear that a prosecution satisfying these three conditions "shall revive any cause of action barred by [prior statutes of limitations]." 1996 Cal. Stats. ch. 130, 1 (codified at Cal. Penal Code Ann. 803(g)(3)(A) (West Supp. 2003)). The statute thus authorizes prosecution for criminal acts committed many years beforehand—and where the original limitations period has expired—as long as prosecution begins within a year of a victim's first complaint to the police.

In 1998, a California grand jury indicted Marion Stogner, the petitioner, charging him with sex-related child abuse committed decades earlier—between 1955 and 1973. With-yers et al. by David M. Porter, Barry T. Simons, Martin N. Buchanan, and Michael B. Dashjian.


Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007