State laws place limits, called criminal statute of limitations, on how much time prosecutors have to file criminal charges. These limits are intended to start criminal trials as soon as possible and to preserve evidence such as eyewitness accounts and fingerprints.
Most states have different limits for different kinds of crimes, and Delaware is no different. There is a three-year time limit for the filing of Class A misdemeanor charges, for instance, but a two-year limit for all other misdemeanors. For most felony charges, there is a five-year limit, which increases to 10 years when there is DNA evidence.
Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Delaware
Learn about Delaware's criminal statute of limitations laws and related matters in the sections below.
||Criminal statute of limitations
||A statute of limitations tells you the time frame when the prosecution must bring a charge for a crime.
||Delaware Code title 11, section 205
- Murder, attempted murder, Class A felonies, and attempts to commit Class A felonies have no time limit.
- Most sexual offenses, and attempts to commit these crimes, may be tried at any time.
- Cases for trafficking or attempted trafficking when the victim is a minor may be tried at any time.
- Cases for any other felony must start within 5 years.
||Cases for Class A misdemeanors must start within 3 years; cases for other misdemeanors must start within 2 years.
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
|| Cases for trafficking or attempted trafficking when the victim is a minor may be tried at any time.
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
||The statute of limitations does not run when:
- You are fleeing or hiding from the authorities;
- You are a "fugitive from justice" because you did not appear for a scheduled court hearing; or
- A case against you for the same crime has started in Delaware.
- If the time limit has expired and there is DNA evidence connected to a crime, the prosecution may bring the case within 10 years of the discovery of that evidence.
- If the time limit has expired for a crime involving forgery, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, theft or misapplication of property, or misconduct in public office, a case can be brought within 2 years of the time the crime was discovered. This time period cannot extend past 3 years of the date of the crime.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Official State Codes
Related Resources for Delaware Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws:
Any criminal charge is a serious matter, and criminal statutes can vary depending on your jurisdiction. If you have been charged with a crime, you can contact a Delaware criminal defense attorney in your area to discuss your case. You can also visit FindLaw's Criminal Law Basics for additional details.