Statute of limitations is a term that gets thrown around a lot on legal shows but not everyone fully understands what they are.
The truth is that the statute of limitations is a very important legal term that addresses whether or not you can be charged for an old crime. The problem is that different crimes have different statutes of limitations.
For example, in California, the statute of limitations on felony fraud, public official misconduct and embezzlement against dependents crimes is four years. In these types of cases, it’s important to understand that the four years don’t necessarily start when the crime is committed but rather when the crime is discovered or the completion of the offense. The prosecutor will look at which date is closer when determining if the statute of limitations has expired.
The statute of limitation for most felony sex offenses that require you to have your name placed on the sex offender registration is ten years. The exception is some felony sex crimes committed against a child which have a statute of limitations that’s determined by the victim’s 40th birthday.
Not all crimes are impacted by a statute of limitations. Crimes that don’t have a statute of limitations include:
- First-degree murder
- Rape (that involves force/violence)
- Embezzlement of money that was drawn from public funds
- Aggravated sexual assault of a child
A statute of limitations doesn’t just apply to criminal charges. It also impacts any civil cases you’re named in.
The problem with the statute of limitations is figuring out when they go into effect. In some situations it’s when the crime was committed, in others, it’s when the crime was first discovered. There are also cases where the date is determined by when the crime ended. The best way to determine how the statute of limitations works in a case you’re involved with is by contacting a good defense lawyer who has a solid understanding of cases like yours.
If you suspect that the statute of limitations is about to go into effect sooner rather than later, you’ll want to act quickly.