The statute of limitations for a crime is the length of time that a person can be charged with committing that crime. If the statute of limitations has passed, and no criminal charges have been made, prosecutors may try to still apply criminal charges. However, an experienced attorney will be able to defend against such actions if charges are brought about after the statute of limitations has expired.
When a crime is committed, law enforcement will investigate the incident. When the perpetrator or perpetrators of the crime are unknown, the police will be looking for a person of interest who may have committed the offense.
Even if you are not an official person of interest, law enforcement may be an ongoing presence in your life. It is normal to feel distressed, anxious, and uneasy if your life is constantly being scrutinized by law enforcement.
Similarly, if you were arrested for a crime, but the prosecution did not charge you, you would be let go. However, the prosecution may still believe that you have a connection to the crime, and if they want to charge you, they will keep on your case. This too is a perplexing and upsetting position for anyone.
When Does the Time Run Out for Law Enforcement to Charge Individuals With Crimes?
The classification of crime, whether a felony or misdemeanor, will impact the duration of time in which a prosecutor can bring charges. Once the police establish that a crime has taken place, the statute of limitation begins to toll. In California, misdemeanor crimes typically have a one-year statute of limitations, while felonies have three years. There are some deviations from this general rule, in which the statute of limitations has different time frames:
- Assault and battery misdemeanors have one year while felonies have three years.
- Theft crimes in San Diego are one year for misdemeanors and three for felonies.
- Fraud of public money and any crime that has the death penalty, life in prison, or life in prison without parole have no statute of limitations.
- Forcible rape has no statute of limitations.
- Violent or forceful rape of a spouse has no statute of limitations.
- Murder has no statute of limitations.
- Gang rape has no statute of limitations.
- Treason has no statute of limitations.
- Aggravated kidnapping has no statute of limitations.
- Felonies, where at least eight years or more behind bars can be assessed, have a six-year statute of limitations.
- Making child pornography or not registering as a sex offender when a conviction exists has a 10-year statute of limitations.
- Elder abuse has a five-year statute of limitations.
- Various forms of fraud can have a four-year statute of limitations.
- Medical professionals who have committed sexual crimes against their patients have a two-year statute of limitations.