What You Should Know About Cold Cases

It makes for good television to see a cold case reopened when new evidence is presented, and justice is served. Cold cases are, by definition, “an unsolved criminal investigation (as of a homicide or abduction) that has stopped being actively pursued because of a lack of evidence.” Typically, after at least one year of investigation, a case may be filed as a cold case. The most common cases that go cold are homicides.

New Cold Case Evidence

Because violent crimes are not subject to the statute of limitations, and new technology advances allow for a more profound unveiling of evidence in many cases, more cold cases are being reopened. Even if the suspect(s) is named, there may be no arrest in many older cases if the suspect is no longer living. However, suppose you find yourself facing criminal charges from a cold case. In that case, it is best to contact a criminal defense attorney who can provide you with the absolute best legal representation possible. Do not speak with law enforcement or investigators without an attorney present. Practicing the Fifth Amendment is your constitutional right and should be exercised immediately upon being detained. Beyond giving your name to law enforcement, discussing details of the case should not be shared due to the possibility of self-incrimination.

Using DNA technology, investigators are able to use evidence to find persons of interest in cold case crimes. Due to impressive advances in technology and its application to solving cold cases, many departments have established a cold case unit where staffing allows. Whether wrongly accused or never solved cases have targeted innocent people, reopening cold cases is more prevalent now than ever before.

Cold Case Investigations

Law enforcement agencies are busy investigating and solving current crimes. For this reason, it can be challenging to get a cold case reopened. There is truth to crimes being easier to solve soon after the crime was committed, becoming exceedingly difficult as more time passes. Having information from the scene and witnesses is easier to obtain closer to the crime and allows law enforcement the advantage of surprise when questioning. Months and years after a crime can make solving a case very difficult, and therefore some cases where evidence and leads have been exhausted that a case may go cold. Police are required to look back at cold cases when time allows. However, if there is new information or evidence, pursuing a reopening is worth a try, especially if you or a loved one have been wrongly accused. Criminal defense attorneys have expertise in handling these kinds of cases. They may very well be able to help you persuade the police to reopen an unsolved case for further investigation.

Cold Cases Solved

The oldest cold case solved was a double murder from 1956. The process of genetic genealogy is used from DNA to replicate a family tree. In doing so, the computer-generated tree reveals most likely suspects and has been an incredible tool for police. In this case, the process positively identified the murderer even though he had passed away. The case would still be unsolved if it weren't for the cooperation of the suspect's living children. This case, after more than 65 years, is finally closed.

Other well-known cold cases are Jack the Ripper, Black Dahlia, the Tylenol poisonings, Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, JonBenet Ramsey, and Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown (OJ Simpson Trial). Many lists on the internet have their version of the most famous unsolved cases, but almost every list included those mentioned. Think about it. If enough evidence were to be presented in any of these cases, the case could possibly be reopened and investigated further using today’s technological capabilities. Although police certainly have their work cut out for them with current cases and defunding affecting the number of staff available to work cold cases, it is nice to think that technology may help avoid sentencing an innocent person.

You should immediately reach out to a defense attorney's office if you have been charged with crimes in a cold case. Regardless of any evidence the police have against you, the protocol for handling cold cases can often lead to law enforcement moving forward. Still, they must adhere to the law when pursuing anything related to a cold case as well as an active case. An experienced attorney will be able to make sure none of your rights have been violated and help fight any charges against you in court. A reputable defense attorney will gladly offer a free consultation to see how they can help.

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