All states have time limits for prosecutors to bring a criminal case against a suspect, commonly referred to as criminal statutes of limitations. The "clock," so to speak, typically begins running at the point the crime is committed, but this time limit is put on hold (the clock is stopped) when suspects are being evasive (fugitives, etc.). Statutes of limitations often differ by the severity of the crime, with murder and other serious crimes having no time limit at all.
Generally, criminal suspects may not be charged with a crime if the statute of limitations has expired, provided they were living openly (not evading law enforcement) throughout the statutory period. Statutes of limitations are meant to help preserve the integrity of evidence (including witness testimony) and maintain efficiency in the criminal justice system.
Time Limits for Criminal Charges in Arkansas
In Arkansas, misdemeanors generally carry a 1-year statute of limitations. Felonies are more varied, with no time limit for many felonies. There is a 6-year limit for Class Y and A felonies, and a 3-year limit for Class B, C, D, and unclassified felonies.
Additional details are listed below. See Time Limits to Bring a Case: The Statute of Limitations to learn about similar time limits used in civil law.
||Criminal statute of limitations
||A statute of limitations tells you the time frame when the prosecution must bring a charge for a crime.
||Arkansas Code section 5-1-109
The following felonies can be tried at any time:
- Capital murder, murder in the first degree, or murder in the second degree
- Rape, if the victim was a minor at the time of the crime or if there is evidence that could lead to a DNA profile of the person who committed the crime
- Sexual assault in the first degree
- Most sex crimes against children
Arson: Must be started within 10 years.
Class Y and Class A felonies: Must be started within 6 years, unless otherwise noted.
Class B, C, D, or unclassified felonies: Must be started within 3 years.
Insurance fraud: Must be started within 3 years. But if the fraudulent acts involve a vehicle, the period is 5 years.
Other kinds of fraud or breach of fiduciary duty: Must be started within 1 year.
Felonious conduct by a public servant: Must be started within 5 years after he or she leaves office or after the crime was discovered or should have been discovered. This period cannot be longer than 10 years.
||Generally, misdemeanors must have an action started against you within 1 year after the crime was committed.
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
||Most sex crimes against children can be tried at any time. The following can be tried at any time if the victim was a minor at the time of the crime and is younger than 28 when charges are brought:
- Sexual assault in the third or fourth degree
- Endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree
- Permitting abuse of a minor
- Computer child pornography
If a mandated reporter of child abuse did not make a report, a charge for failure to report must be brought within 10 years after the child turns 18.
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
||The statute of limitations does not run when:
- You are continually absent from the state or have no reasonably ascertainable home or work within the state, although this period cannot be extended for more than 3 years; or
- when a prosecution against you for the same conduct is pending in Arkansas.
|| Even if the statute of limitations for a crime has expired, the prosecution can still bring a case when DNA testing implicates you if you were previously identified through a search of the State DNA Data Base or National DNA Index System.
Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through the enactment of new statutes or the issuance of higher court decisions. Be sure to contact an Arkansas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Arkansas Criminal Statute of Limitations: Related Resources