Lance Armstrong, the cycling champion, could get away with penal charges.


Lance Armstrong, the cycling champion, could get away with penal charges.

Indeed, some American lawyers believe prosecutors may drop charges against Lance Armstrong due to limitation period prescribed by US penal law.

In fact, when it comes to charges related to illegal possession and distribution of steroids, human growth hormone and related performance-enhancer, US federal law provides a five (5) year limitation period. Moreover, US federal law also carries a five (5) year limitation period for conspiracy and racketeering. Therefore, since Lance Armstrong’s former fellow Floyd Landis’ claims relate to activities that happened between 2002 and 2004, penal charges for Lance Armstrong wrongdoing are very likely to be barred.

However, US federal law also provides some specific conditions under which if respected the five (5) year limitation period may be extended.

Finally, it should be noted that some of Floyd Landis’ allegations might relate to much more recent activities. On that point, statute of limitations would not bar prosecutors from laying charges against Lance Armstrong and US court could therefore impose appropriate sentencing for Lance Armstrong’s misbehaviour.

In Canada, there exists no such limitation period for charges laid in accordance with the Criminal Code of Canada except in cases where the prosecutor proceeds by summary conviction where the Criminal Code of Canada provides a six (6) month limitation period in most cases. Finally, similarly to the US federal legislation for penal charges, Quebec penal legislation provides a one (1) year limitation period subject to exceptions.

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