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Statutes of Limitation

If you have been accused of a crime, it is important to be aware that there may be a deadline by which charges must be brought against you. This deadline is called a statute of limitations. There are several reasons why the United States has statutes of limitations in place:

  • Since memories fade over time, bringing charges against someone in an expedient manner helps ensure the accuracy of victim’s memories of the criminal event.
  • It’s more difficult to find key witnesses as time passes.
  • The longer you wait to charge someone, the more opportunity there is for evidence to disappear or be tampered with.
  • Statutes of limitation place a limit on how long those suspected of a crime can be pursued by law enforcement. This is to help ensure that the accused do not have to live a life in constant fear of the law.
  • Statutes of limitation compel law enforcement agencies to act efficiently and carefully in pursuing criminal charges against a suspect.

Knowledge is Power

While statutes of limitation are in place to safeguard those accused of crimes, a person must be aware of the statute of limitations on the crime they have been charged with to take full advantage of it. If the statute of limitations has run out for a crime that you have been charged with, it is your responsibility to bring that information to the forefront. No one will tell you that the statute of limitations has run out and you may be prosecuted for the crime you are accused of if you are not well-informed.

It is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side when you are facing criminal charges. A defense attorney should have the knowledge and resources to determine if the statute of limitations has run out for whatever crime you are being charged with.

Determining Statutes of Limitation

Statutes of limitation vary depending on what the crime is and what state you’re in. The federal government also has its own statutes of limitations for crimes. This is important to note because while the state statutes may have expired, the federal statutes may not have or vice-versa. Keep in mind that some major crimes (e.g., murder) do not have statutes of limitations on them and may be prosecuted at any point in time.

While it may seem that statutes of limitation are cut-and-dry time periods, they can be very complex. The clock on statutes of limitations does not always start ticking at the moment a crime was committed. For example, if a crime was committed against a minor, the statute of limitation will not begin until that minor has turned 18. Additional factors may also cause statutes of limitation to be tolled, or extended. A competent attorney should be able to help you determine when the statute of limitation for the crime you have been accused of runs out.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

Statutes of limitation are complex and often confusing to determine. If you have been accused of a crime, don’t waste time. Find a criminal defense attorney in your state today (see How to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney).