Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations specifies a definitive time period in which legal action can be levied against a person accused of a particular crime. Over time key pieces of evidence can be lost or become marred, witnesses’ recollections of events can change or accusers can levy fraudulent claims for any number of reasons.
A Statute of limitations is designed to protect the accused of becoming a victim of false or fraudulent accusations after an unreasonable amount of time has passed and to ensure that a person facing charges is convicted based upon the most current and reliable evidence. You have a right as the accused to a fair and speedy trial and statutes of limitations are in place to ensure that law enforcement officials and prosecutors act in a timely manner in regards to the criminal charges that you are facing.

Statutes of limitations can vary greatly from state to state and depending upon the specific crime which someone has been charged with. Though there are statues of limitation in place for a very large portion of crimes, some offenses have no statue of limitations at all.

Some Crimes with no Statute of Limitations

  • Homicide
  • Crimes punishable by death
  • Terrorism
  • Sex crimes against children
  • Specific sex crimes
  • Some international crimes

Why Criminal Defense Attorneys are a Necessity When Facing any Criminal Charges

The prosecutor and court system aren’t necessarily obligated to require a statute of limitations as a method of defense when criminal charges have been filed. Due to the fact that statutes of limitations can vary so greatly from one jurisdiction to another or from one crime to another it can be difficult for a person accused of a crime to know with certainty that the statute of limitations for the crime that they have been accused of has passed.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will have extensive knowledge of the law in the area in which they practice and will be fully aware of all statutes of limitations in place for crimes in that jurisdiction. If a statute of limitations defense is available to you, a criminal defense attorney will ensure that it is entered.
Statutes of limitation can vary in length from times as short as three years following commission of a crime to several decades after the crime has been committed and there are many instances in which a statute of limitations can be extended depending upon the specific circumstances surrounding particular crimes.

Determining whether or not the statute of limitations has passed or if there even is a statute of limitations in place for the specific charges which you are facing can be exceedingly difficult if you don’t have extensive knowledge of and experience with local, state and federal law. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side throughout the entire course of your legal proceedings will help bring to light the most effective and viable defense strategies that could be available to someone in your situation, including a defense of an expired statute of limitations.