Time Limits for Charges: State Criminal Statutes of Limitations

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

A statute of limitations is a law that forbids prosecutors from charging someone with a crime that was committed more than a specified number of years ago. The main purpose of these laws is to ensure that convictions are based upon evidence (physical or eyewitness) that has not deteriorated with time. After the time period has run, the crime can no longer be prosecuted, meaning that the accused person is essentially free.

Each states establishes its own statutes of limitations, often with different time limits for distinct types of crime.

State Criminal Statutes of Limitations and "Tolling"

Generally speaking, the prosecutor's "clock" ticks only if the criminal suspect remains in the state. If the individual flees or goes into hiding, the clock will pause (in legal jargon "toll") and will resume running when and if the suspected person reenters the state. This is to prevent criminals from avoiding the consequences of their crimes by simply running, hiding and waiting out the authorities. Other circumstances may justify tolling, too, such as concealment of the wrongdoing.

Categories of Crimes

Not all crimes are governed by statutes of limitations. Murder, for example, has none, meaning that a murderer can be brought to justice even many decades later. Some states also have no time limits for certain other types of crime, such as sex offenses or terrorism charges. Colorado has no statute of limitations on treason. California has none on embezzlement of public funds.

Some states classify their crimes in categories for these purposes. In Indiana, for example, Level 3 felonies have a five-year statute of limitations. This makes it necessary to look up which crimes are considered Level 3.

State Criminal Statutes of Limitations: An Overview

The chart below summarizes each state's criminal statutes of limitations.

State

Code Section(s)

Felonies

Misdemeanors

Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run

ALABAMA

15-3-1 et seq.

Violent felonies, arson, forgery, counterfeiting, any sex offense with someone under 16, drug trafficking: none; other felonies: 3 yrs.; conversion of state or county revenue: 6 yrs.; unlawfully taking or using temporarily the property of another: 30 days

12 mos.

The time elapsing between two indictments must be deducted from the time for the prosecution of the offense last charged, in certain circumstances.

ALASKA

12.10.010 et seq.

Murder, kidnapping, numerous sex crimes: none; most other felonies: either 10 or 5 yrs.

5 yrs.

If outside the state hiding, maximum extension 3 yrs when a prosecution against the accused for the same conduct is pending in this state.

ARIZONA

13-107

Homicide, violent sexual assault, misuse of public money, falsifying public records: none; other felonies: 7 yrs.

1 yr.; petty offenses: 6 mos.

Absent from state or no reasonably ascertainable residence in state; identity not known

ARKANSAS

5-1-109

Murder, numerous sex offenses: none; Class Y and A felonies: 6 yrs.; Class B, C, D, or unclassified felonies: 3 yrs.

1 yr.

Continually absent from state or has no reasonably ascertainable home or work within the state, max. extension 3 yrs. when a prosecution against the accused for the same conduct is pending in this state.

CALIFORNIA

Penal Code 799 et seq.

Offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment, embezzlement of public funds, numerous sex crimes: none; offenses punishable by 8 or more years in prison: 6 yrs.; offenses punishable by imprisonment: 3 yrs.

1 to 4 yrs., depending on the particular misdemeanor

Not in state, max. extension 3 yrs.; statutory periods do not begin until offense is or should have been discovered

COLORADO

16-5-401

Murder, kidnapping, treason, any sex offense against a child, forgery: none; most other felonies: 3 yrs.

18 mos. generally; Class 1 and 2 and traffic offenses: 1 yr.; petty offenses: 6 mos.

Absent from state: 5 yrs. maximum extension

CONNECTICUT

54-193 et seq.

Murder or Class A felony: none; most other felonies: 5 yrs.; sexual abuse, exploitation, or assault: 30 yrs. after victim reaches majority or 5 yrs. from date victim notifies law enforcement, whichever is earlier; special provisions apply when forensic DNA evidence later identifies the perpetrator

1 yr.

Fleeing or residing outside state

DELAWARE

11: 205

Murder, Class A felonies, numerous sex offenses: none; most others: 5 yrs. unless forensic DNA evidence, then 10 yrs.; any offense which includes forgery, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, theft or misapplication of property, misconduct in public office: additional 3 yrs.

Class A: 3 yrs.; others: 2 yrs.

Fleeing or hiding from justice action commenced

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

23-113

1st or 2nd degree murder: none; other felonies in 1st and 2nd degree: 6 yrs.; all other crimes: 3 yrs.; except if offense included official misconduct, fraud or breach of fiduciary trust: max. 9 yrs. felony, 6 yrs. misdemeanor

3 yrs.

Fleeing or action commenced

FLORIDA

775.15

Felony that resulted in death: none; perjury in official proceeding that relates to prosecution of a capitol felony: none; Capital or life felony: none; 1st degree felony and 2nd degree felony for abuse or neglect of aged or disabled adult: 5 yrs.; others: 3 yrs.; other felony, violation of securities transaction: 5 yrs.; violation of environmental control: 5 yrs. of date of discovery; any offense which fraud or breach of fiduciary obligation is a material element: 3 yrs.; misconduct in public office: within 2 yrs. of leaving office or any above limit, whichever is greater

Other 1st degree misdemeanors: 2 yrs.; 2nd degree and noncriminal violations: 1 yr.

Continually absent from state, no reasonably ascertainable work or abode in state: maximum extension 3 yrs.

GEORGIA

17-3-1 et seq.

Murder, certain crimes against children: none; forcible rape: 15 yrs.; other crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment: 7 yrs.; other felonies: 4 yrs; special provisions apply when DNA evidence later identifies the perpetrator

2 yrs.

Nonresident; when person or crime is unknown

HAWAII

701-108

1st or 2nd degree murder or 1st, 2nd degree attempted murder or criminal solicitation to commit murder: none; manslaughter where death was not caused by operating a motor vehicle: 10 yrs.; Class A felony: 6 yrs.; others: 3 yrs.; if fraud or breach of fiduciary obligation is element: 2-6 yrs. extension after discovery; if based on misconduct in public office: 2-3 yrs. extension upon discovery

Misdemeanor or parking violation: 2 yrs.; petty misdemeanors: 1 yr.

Continuously absent from state or no reasonably ascertainable residence or work within the state, while prosecution is pending: maximum extension 4 yrs.; prosecution pending

IDAHO

19-401 et seq.

Murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, sexual abuse of a child or lewd conduct with a child, an act of terrorism: none; other felonies: 5 yrs.; ritualized abuse of child: 3 yrs. after initial disclosure by victim

1 yr.

Absent from state

ILLINOIS

720: 5/3-5 et seq.

1st or 2nd degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, treason, arson, forgery, child pornography, many sexual offenses: none; certain theft crimes: 7 yrs.; most other felonies: 3 yrs. Extended limitations under certain circumstances

18 mos.

Nonresident prosecution pending

INDIANA

35-41-4-2

Murder, Level 1, 2 felony: none; Level 3, 4, 5, 6 felony, forgery of an instrument for payment: 5 yrs.; child molesting, vicarious sexual gratification, child solicitation or seduction, incest: when alleged victim turns 31 yrs. of age; Level 3, 4, 5 felony extended 1 yr. after DNA evidence revealing identity of offender discovered or should have been discovered

2 yrs.

Nonresident, absent state, conceals self or evidence of crime; prosecution is considered timely if defendant pleads guilty at any time

IOWA

802.1 et seq.

1st and 2nd degree murder: none; others: 3 yrs.; 1st, 2nd, 3rd degree sex abuse committed on or with a person under 18: within 10 yrs. after victim turns 18; incest with person under 18: within 10 yrs. after victim turns 18; sexual exploitation by counselor or therapist: 10 yrs., unless victim under 18 yrs., then 10 yrs. after victim turns 18; fraud or breach of fiduciary duty: extension up to 3 yrs.

Serious misdemeanor: 3 yrs.; simple misdemeanor or violation of ordinances: 1 yr.

Outside state or nonresident

KANSAS

21-5107

Murder, terrorism, rape: none; most sexually violate crimes: 10 yrs. or within 1 yr. of DNA evidence establishing offender's identity, whichever is later; most other felonies: 5 yrs.

2 yrs.

Absent from state or concealed within state; concealed crime

KENTUCKY

500.050

Felony: no time limit

1 yr.

 

LOUISIANA

Crim. Proc. Art. 571 et seq.

Crimes with punishment of death or life imprisonment: none; felony punishable by hard labor: 6 yrs.; felony not necessarily punishable by hard labor: 4 yrs.; forcible rape, none; forcible rape, sexual battery (aggravated), carnal knowledge, indecent behavior or molestation of juvenile, crime against nature involving victim under 17 yrs. of age: 10 yrs. beginning when victim turns 18 yrs. old

Punishment of fine or forfeiture: 6 mos.; fine and/or prison: 2 yrs.

Avoiding detection, fleeing, outside state, absent residence in state; lacks mental capacity to proceed at trial

MAINE

17-A: 8

Murder, 1st or 2nd degree criminal homicide, incest, rape, or gross sexual assault if victim is under 16 yrs. of age: none; Class A, B, C crime: 6 yrs.; Class D, E crime: 3 yrs.; if breach of fiduciary obligation: 1 yr., max. extension: 5 yrs.; official misconduct: 2 yrs., max. extension: 5 yrs.

 

Absent state or prosecution pending in state: maximum 5 yrs. extension

MARYLAND

Cts. & Jud. Proc. 5-106 et seq.; Crim. Law 2-102

Murder, manslaughter or unlawful homicide: none; arson and numerous other offenses: 3 yrs.

Misdemeanor offenses: Varies from 30 days to 3 yrs.

 

MASSACHUSETTS

277: 63

Murder: none; robbery, intent to rob or murder with dangerous weapon: 10 yrs; rape, assault with intent to rape, rape/abuse/assault of child: 15 yrs.; others: 6 yrs.; indecent assault on child, on mentally retarded person, rape/abuse/assault of child, kidnapping of minor, sexual offenses such as drugging for sex, enticing for marriage, inducing minor into prostitution, lewd and lascivious behavior or acts, dissemination of harmful matter to minors, exhibiting nudity, or crime against nature: when victim reaches 16 yrs. old or violation is reported, whichever is earlier

6 yrs.

Tolled when defendant is not usually and publicly resident

MICHIGAN

767.24

Murder: none; kidnapping, extortion, assault with intent or conspiracy to murder: 10 yrs.; others: 6 yrs.; if victim was under age 18 for any degree of sexual conduct or assault with intent to commit sexual conduct or any sexually abusive activity or material to minor: 10 yrs. or when the victim turns 21 yrs. old, whichever is later; if DNA evidence obtained: none until offender identified, then 10 yrs. after identification or when victim turns 21, whichever is later.

6 yrs.

Not resident, did not usually and publicly reside

MINNESOTA

628.26

Murder: none; bribery, medical assistance fraud, theft: 6 yrs. (if value of property/services in theft is over $35,000: 5 yrs.); familial sexual abuse, criminal sexual conduct: 9 yrs. or if victim under 18 yrs. of age, within 3 yrs. after; if DNA evidence collected and capable of testing: any time after offense is reported; arson, environmental offenses: 5 yrs.; all others: 3 yrs.

3 yrs.

Not inhabitant of or usually resident within state

MISSISSIPPI

99-1-5

Murder, manslaughter, arson, burglary, forgery, counterfeiting, robbery, larceny, rape, numerous other sexual crimes, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses of property: none; most others: 2 yrs.

2 yrs.

Absent state, fleeing, hiding

MISSOURI

556.036

Murder or Class A felony: none; others: 3 yrs.; unlawful sexual offenses involving person under 17 yrs. old: 10 yrs.; if fraud or breach of fiduciary duty is material element of offense: 1-3 yrs. after discovery; official misconduct: 2-3 yrs. after offense or public employment

1 yr.; infractions: 6 mos.

Absent state, hiding: maximum 3 yr. extension; prosecution pending for same conduct, lacks mental fitness: maximum 3 yr. extension

MONTANA

45-1-205; 45-1-206

Deliberate, mitigated, or negligent homicide: none; others: 5 yrs.; sexual assault, sexual intercourse without consent, indecent exposure, deviate sexual conduct, incest, sexual or ritual abuse of child if victim is under 18 yrs. old at time of offense: within 10 yrs. of victim turning 18 yrs. old; theft involving breach of fiduciary obligation: within 1 yr. of discovery or if involving a minor, within 1 yr. of termination of minority; unlawful use of computer: within 1 yr. of discovery of offense

1 yr.; misdemeanor of fish, wildlife, or outfitter activity laws: within 3 yrs. after offense committed

When offender is not usually and publicly resident of state, or beyond jurisdiction of state; prosecution pending for same conduct

NEBRASKA

29-110

Murder, treason, arson, forgery, numerous sexual assault crimes: none; most others: 3 yrs.; if victim is less than 16 yrs. old at time of offense, kidnapping, false imprisonment, child abuse, pandering, debauching a minor: 7 yrs. from offense or victim's 16th birthday, whichever is later

18 mos.; if fine less than $100 or jail time less than 3 mos.: 1 yr.

Fleeing justice

NEVADA

171.080 et seq.

Murder, certain sexual assault offenses: none; theft, robbery, arson, burglary, forgery: 4 yrs.

Gross misdemeanor: 2 yrs.; others: 1 yr.

Prosecution commences when indictment is presented

NEW HAMPSHIRE

625: 8

Murder: none; Class A or B felony or unemployment compensation offense: 6 yrs.; offense of hunting game or fur-bearing animals or violation of off highway recreational vehicles: 3 yrs.; breach of fiduciary duty: within 1 yr. of offense; official misconduct: within 2 yrs. of offense; sexual assault and related offenses when victim is under 18 yrs. old: within 22 yrs. of victim's 18th birthday

1 yr.; violations: 3 mos.

Absent state, no residence or work in state; prosecution pending for same conduct

NEW JERSEY

2C: 1-6

Murder, manslaughter: none; official misconduct, bribery and related offenses: 7 yrs.; others: 5 yrs.

Petty offense or disorderly persons offense: 1 yr.

Fleeing justice; prosecution pending for same conduct

NEW MEXICO

30-1-8 et seq.

Capital or 1st degree felony: none; 2nd degree: 6 yrs.; 3rd and 4th degree: 5 yrs.; many others: 3 yrs.

2 yrs.; petty: 1 yr.

Fleeing justice or not usually or publicly resident of state; enumerated procedural defects; when DNA evidence is available and suspect has not been identified for criminal sexual penetration, time period won't run until a DNA profile is matched with a suspect

NEW YORK

Crim. Proc. 30.10

Murder, rape, Class A felonies: none; others: 5 yrs.; violation of collection, treatment, disposal of refuse and solid waste: 4 yrs.; breach of fiduciary duty: within 1 yr. of discovery of offense; official misconduct: 5 yrs. of offense

2 yrs.; petty offenses: 1 yr.; tax law misdemeanor: 3 yrs. (NY City adm. code)

Absent state or whereabouts unknown: up to 5 yrs.

NORTH CAROLINA

15-1

None

Malicious misdemeanor: none; others: 2 yrs.

 

NORTH DAKOTA

29-04-01 to 04

Murder: none; others: 3 yrs.; sexual abuse of children: 10 yrs. or within 3 yrs. of when crime was reported or when DNA conclusively identifies the perpetrator

2 yrs.

Absent state

OHIO

2901.13

Murder or aggravated murder: none; others: 6 yrs.; fraud or breach of fiduciary duty: within 1 yr. of discovery of offense; official misconduct: within 2 yrs.; manslaughter, kidnapping rape, sexual battery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, compelling prostitution, arson, robbery, burglary, aggravated riot, felonious or aggravated assault of a peace officer, felonious assault, or conspiracy or attempt to commit any of the above: 20 yrs.

2 yrs.; minor misdemeanor: 6 mos.

Absent state or conceals identity or whereabouts or undiscovered corpus delicti; prosecution pending for same conduct

OKLAHOMA

22: 151-153

Murder: none; bribery, embezzlement or misappropriation of public money or other assets, falsification of public records, conspiracy to defraud state or other subdivision, rape or forcible sodomy; lewd or indecent proposals or acts against children crimes involving minors in pornography, sodomy: 7 yrs.; (extended if DNA evidence collected and preserved: within 3 yrs. of identity establishment of offender through DNA testing); criminal conspiracy, embezzlement, criminal state income tax violations: 5 yrs.; all others: 3 yrs.

3 yrs.

Absent state or not a resident of the state

OREGON

131.125, 145, 155

Murder, manslaughter: none; certain sexual felonies including sexual abuse, rape: 12 yrs. or if victim was under 18 yrs. old at time of offense, any time before victim turns 30 yrs. old; various other crimes: 6 yrs.

Sexual misdemeanors: sexual abuse in the 3rd degree or sending, furnishing, exhibiting or displaying obscene materials to minors: 4 yrs. after the offense is reported or if victim is under 18 yrs. old, upon turning 22 yrs. old, whichever occurs first

Absent state, hides within state, not resident of state; max. extension 3 yrs.

PENNSYLVANIA

42: 5551-5554

Murder, manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, conspiracy to murder, soliciting to commit murder and murder results, felony connected with 1st or 2nd degree murder, vehicular homicide: none; major offenses or conspiracy or solicitation to commit major offense: 5 yrs.; others: 2 yrs.; fraud or breach of fiduciary duty: 3 yrs.; official misconduct: 8 yrs.; sexual offense committed against a minor: period of limitation starts when minor reaches age 18; major sexual offenses: 12 years

2 yrs.; summary offenses: 30 days

Absent from state; no ascertainable residence or place of work within state; prosecution pending for same conduct

RHODE ISLAND

12-12-17; 12-12-18

Treason against state; homicide, arson, burglary, counterfeiting, forgery, robbery, rape, sexual assault, child molestation, bigamy, manufacturing, selling, distributing or possession of controlled substance, or conspiracy to any of the above: none; larceny, embezzlement, bribery, extortion, racketeering, antitrust violation, or conspiracy to any of the above: 10 yrs.; violations of refuse or hazardous waste disposal or water pollution: 7 yrs.; others: 3 yrs.

3 yrs.

Stolen, lost, destroyed information: extends limitation period one year

SOUTH CAROLINA

No statute of limitation for any criminal prosecution

     

SOUTH DAKOTA

23A-42-1 et seq.

Murder, Class A, B, or C felony: none; most other public offenses: 7 yrs.

7 yrs.

Absent state

TENNESSEE

40-2-101 et seq.

Any crime punishable by death or life imprisonment: none; Class A felony: 15 yrs.; Class B felony: 8 yrs.; defrauding state, evading or defeating any tax, fraudulent return: 6 yrs.; Class C or D felony: 4 yrs.; Class E felony: 2 yrs.; others: 3 yrs.; certain offenses committed against a child: 25 yrs. after child reaches age of 18; arson: 8 yrs;

Gaming: 6 mos.; others: 12 mos.

Concealing fact of crime, absent state

TEXAS

Crim. Proc. 12.01; 12.02; 12.05

Murder, manslaughter, numerous sex crimes: none; certain theft offenses, forgery, arson: 10 yrs.; money laundering: 7 yrs.; other theft offenses, robbery: 5 yrs.; others: 3 yrs.

2 yrs.

Absent state, pendency of indictment, information complaint

UTAH

76-1-301 et seq.

Murder, manslaughter, numerous sex crimes: none; other felony or negligent homicide: 4 yrs.; fraud or breach of fiduciary obligation, official misconduct: 3 yrs. max.; misuse of public monies, bribery: 2 yrs. after facts reported to prosecutor; special provisions apply when DNA evidence identifies the perpetrator at a later date

2 yrs.; infractions: 1 yr.

Absent state

VERMONT

13: 4501 et seq.

Murder, arson causing death, kidnapping, numerous sex crimes: none; manslaughter, grand larceny, robbery, burglary, embezzlement, forgery, bribery, false claims, fraud, and felony tax offenses: 6 yrs.; other sex crimes: 40 yrs.; arson: 11 yrs.

3 yrs.

 

VIRGINIA

19.2-8

Murder: none; cruelty to animals: 5 yrs. (except for agricultural animals: 1 yr.); making false presentation under VA Unemployment Compensation Act to receive benefits, attempt to evade or failure to pay taxes, violation of laws re: discharge, dumping, or emission of toxic substance, violation of rules of VA Real Estate Board, illegal sales of wild birds, animals, or freshwater fish: 3 yrs.; malfeasance in office, Building Code violations: 2 yrs.; violation of Campaign Finance Disclosure Act: within 1 yr. of discovery, max. 3 yrs. after offense

Petit larceny: 5 yrs.; attempt to produce abortion: 2 yrs.; others: 1 yr.

Fleeing justice or concealing self to avoid arrest

WASHINGTON

9A.04.080

Murder, arson causing death, vehicular homicide: none; other arson: 10 yrs.; rape if reported within 1 yr. of commission: 10 yrs.; various crimes against children: until the child turns age 30; special provisions apply when DNA evidence identifies the perpetrator at a later date

Gross misdemeanors: 2 yrs.; other offenses: 1 yr.

Not publicly a resident

WEST VIRGINIA

61-11-9

No time limit for felonies

Petty larceny or perjury: 3 yrs.; others: 1 yr.

Stolen, lost, destroyed indictment

WISCONSIN

939.74

Homicide: none; certain crimes against a child: before victim turns 45 years old; special provisions apply when DNA evidence identifies the perpetrator at a later date

Misdemeanors or adultery: 3 yrs.

Not publicly resident; if victim is unable to seek issuance of a complaint, that time period excluded due to threats, etc.; prosecution pending for same act

WYOMING

No statute of limitation for any criminal prosecution

     

Need Assistance with a State Criminal Statute of Limitations? Contact a Lawyer

A statute of limitations can be a criminal defendant's path to freedom. However, these matters are sometimes complicated. If you've been accused of a crime and believe that prosecutors waited too long to bring charges, you may wish to speak with an experienced defense attorney. Contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer near you to learn more.

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