Statute of Limitations: Background
There are time limits for prosecutors to file criminal charges, called statutes of limitations (civil cases also have time limits for filing a claim). The criminal statutes of limitations are rooted in a sense of fairness when dealing with law enforcement. They are intended to preserve the integrity of evidence, including witness testimony, and to ensure that criminal cases are resolved in a timely manner.
Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Arizona
In Arizona, there is no statute of limitations for murder or violent sexual assault -- meaning, someone may be prosecuted for these types of offenses regardless of whether the crime was committed 1 year ago or 40 years ago. Other felonies generally carry a 7-year statute of limitations.
When it comes to misdemeanors in the Grand Canyon State, the state has 1 year to file charges or 6 months for petty offenses.
Remember also that statutes of limitations are divided into federal and state categories. If you are charged with a federal crime, it would be subject to a federal statute of limitations.
Federal statutes of limitations apply only to federal crimes. Typically, those are crimes that take place on federal property or otherwise fall under federal jurisdiction. Mail fraud and burglarizing or vandalizing a federally owned property are some examples of federal crimes.
Learn more about Arizona's criminal statute of limitations in the following table. See Time Limits for Charges: State Criminal Statutes of Limitations for a general overview.
||Criminal statute of limitations
||A statute of limitations tells you the time frame when the prosecution must bring a charge for a crime.
||Arizona Revised Statutes section 13-107
The following felonies (including attempts to commit the crimes) can be tried at any time (meaning there is no time limit):
- Conspiracy to commit homicide that results in death
- Violent sexual assault
- Engaging in, organizing, or soliciting an act of terrorism
- Unlawful use of an infectious biological substance or radiological agent
- Misuse of public money
- Falsifying public records
Prosecution for other class 2 through class 6 felonies must be started within 7 years.
- Prosecution for misdemeanors must be started within 1 year.
- Prosecution for petty offenses must be started within 6 months.
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
||A prosecution for sexual exploitation of a child can be started at any time.
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
||The statute of limitations does not run when you are absent from the state, when you have no reasonably ascertainable residence in the state, or when your identity is not known.
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an Arizona criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
For more general information, feel free to take a look at FindLaw's section on criminal law. To learn more about Arizona's statutes of limitations, the links below will connect you with additional resources. Finally, if you have specific questions regarding a criminal matter, consider retaining a criminal defense lawyer.
Arizona Criminal Laws Related Resources:
Charged With a Crime in Arizona? A Defense Attorney Can Help
Maybe the time to charge you with a criminal offense in Arizona has run out, but the prosecutor charged you anyway. Maybe you were arrested, but haven't been charged in a criminal complaint and want to know your rights. Whatever the situation, you should speak with an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney if you're involved in a criminal case.