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Time Limits for Charges: State Criminal Statutes of Limitations

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 of legal consequences from the offense.

This article discusses time limits for charges. Each state establishes its own statutes of limitations, often with distinct time limits for different 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 for treason. California has none for the embezzlement of public funds.

Some states classify their crimes in categories for these purposes. In Indiana, for example, Level 3 felonies generally have a five-year statute of limitations. Consultation with a defense attorney should help determine whether an offense is properly charged as a Level 3 crime and whether any exceptions to the five-year limitation might apply.

State Criminal Statutes of Limitations: An Overview

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


Code Section(s)



Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run


15-3-1 et seq.

Capital offenses, or any crime causing death or serious physical injury, arson, forgery, counterfeiting, drug trafficking: none; all other felonies, except conversion of public revenues: 5 yrs.; conversion of public revenues: 6 yrs.

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.


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.



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



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.


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



Murder, kidnapping, treason, any sex offense against a child, forgery: none; vehicular homicide: 5 yrs.; 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


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


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



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



Felony, life felony, or a felony that resulted in death: none; felony of first degree: 4 yrs.; any other felony: 3 yrs.

First degree misdemeanor: 2 yrs.; second degree or noncriminal violation: 1 yr.

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


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



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.; most 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


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


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



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


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: none

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

Outside state or nonresident



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.

5 yrs.

Absent from state or concealed within state; concealed crime



Felony: no time limit

1 yr.



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: 30 yrs. beginning when victim turns 18 yrs. old

Punishment of fine, imprisonment, or both: 2 yrs.; fine or forfeiture, within 6 mos.

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


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, or C crimes involving gross sexual assault or unlawful sexual touching: 8 years; other Class A, B, or C crimes: 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


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

Felony crimes: none; civil charges: 3 years

Generally one year with exceptions (up to three years)



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



Murder: none; kidnapping, extortion, assault with intent or conspiracy to murder: 10 yrs.; identity theft: 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: 15 yrs. or when the victim turns 28 yrs. old, whichever is later; if DNA evidence obtained: none until offender identified, then 10 yrs. after identification or when victim turns 28, whichever is later.

6 yrs.

Not resident, did not usually and publicly reside



Murder, kidnapping, many sex crimes, labor trafficking of minors: 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



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



Murder or Class A felony: none; others: 3 yrs.; unlawful sexual offenses involving person under 17 yrs. old: 10 yrs.; others: 3 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


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



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


171.085 et seq.

Murder, terrorism, certain sexual assault offenses: none; theft, robbery, arson, burglary, forgery: 4 yrs.; sexual assault: 20 yrs.; sex trafficking: 6 years any other felony: within 3 yrs.

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

Prosecution commences when indictment is presented


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


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


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


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.




Malicious misdemeanor: none; certain misdemeanors related to juveniles: 10 yrs.; others: 2 yrs.



29-04-01 to 04

Murder: none; others: 3 yrs.; certain sex/trafficking crimes: 7 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



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


22: 151152, and153

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


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.


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, many serious offenses against children: 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


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


No statute of limitation for any criminal prosecution



23A-42-1 et seq.

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

7 yrs.

Absent state


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


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


76-1-301 et seq.

Murder, manslaughter, numerous sex crimes: none; other felony or negligent homicide: up to 8 yrs. (4 yrs. from time reported); 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


13: 4501 et seq.

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

3 yrs.




Murder or manslaughter: none; cruelty to animals: 5 yrs. (except for agricultural animals: 1 yr.); benefits fraud, tax evasion, environmental and conservation violations: 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



Murder, homicide offenses, many sex crimes against minors: none; certain rape offenses: 20 years; arson, attempted murder, third-degree rape: 10 yrs.; other felonies: 6 years; class C felonies: 5 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



No time limit for felonies

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

Stolen, lost, destroyed indictment



Homicide: none; certain crimes against a child: before victim turns 45 years old; other felonies: 6 yrs.; 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


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 crucial for securing the freedom of a criminal defendant. However, these matters are sometimes complicated. If you have 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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