State laws place limits on how much time prosecutors have to file criminal charges, called the criminal statute of limitations. Most states have different limits for different kinds of crimes, and Hawaii is no exception.
Class A felonies, which make up the majority of felonies in Hawaii, have a six-year statute of limitations. For misdemeanor or parking violations there is a two-year statute of limitations. First- or second-degree murder have no statute of limitations in Hawaii so there is no deadline on when charges can be filed.
Criminal Statutes of Limitation in Hawaii
Learn about Hawaii's criminal statute of limitations laws and related matters in the sections below.
||Criminal Statute of Limitations
||The length of time for which prosecution proceedings can be commenced for a crime.
||Hawaii Penal Code section 701-108
- 1st or 2nd degree murder or 1st, 2nd degree attempted murder, criminal conspiracy to commit murder in any degree or criminal solicitation to commit murder, sexual assault in the first and second degrees: none
- Manslaughter where death was not caused by operating a motor vehicle: 10 yrs
- Class A felony: 6 yrs
- Any felony under part IX of chapter 708: 5 years
- 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 or a violation other than a parking violation: 1 yr
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
||Continuous sexual assault of a minor under the age of 14 years: none
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
- Continuously absent from state or no reasonably ascertainable residence or work within the state, while prosecution is pending: maximum extension 4 yrs
- Prosecution pending for the same conduct
- Felony offense under part V or VI of chapter 707, during any time when the victim is alive and under 18 years of age
When statutes of limitation can be extended:
- an offense with an element of fraud, deception, or breach of fiduciary obligation; within 3 years of discovery, extended up to 6 yrs
- an offense of misconduct while in public office; within 2 years of misconduct, extended up to 3 yrs
- a felony offense that involves DNA evidence from the offender, if the test is performed prior to the original period of limitation; extended up to 10 yrs
Why Do We Have Statutes of Limitation?
The idea behind criminal statutes of limitations is to ensure criminal trials (and possible subsequent convictions) are based on evidence that has not deteriorated over time.
Testimonial evidence (officer statements, eyewitness accounts, etc.) and physical evidence (fingerprints, DNA, etc.) can fade or be lost over time. Therefore, it is better to have a criminal trial as soon after an incident as possible.
Longer or indefinite statutes of limitations attempt to balance the interest in fair trials with the seriousness of the offense. The thought is that criminals should not be able to avoid the consequences for serious crimes just by waiting out the authorities. Therefore, most statutes of limitations will run only while the alleged criminal remains visible and in the state where the crime occurred. If the suspect is out of the state or otherwise living in hiding, this will pause, or “toll," the statutory clock. The clock resumes running, so to speak, if the criminal reenters the state.
Related Resources for Hawaii 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 Hawaii criminal defense attorney in your area to discuss your case. You can also visit FindLaw's Criminal Law Basics for additional details.