Each state has laws called criminal statutes of limitations, which limit how much time prosecutors have to file criminal charges against you. The point of criminal statutes of limitations is to ensure that criminal trials are based on the best available evidence. Testimonial evidence like officer statements and eyewitness accounts, and physical evidence like fingerprints and DNA, can fade or be lost over time. Therefore, it is best to have criminal trials as soon after an incident as possible.
Like most states, Indiana has different limits for different kinds of crimes. For instance, while there is just a two-year time limit for the filing of misdemeanor charges, most felony charges have a five-year statute of limitations and there is no limit on murder charges. The thought here is that suspected criminals should not be able to avoid the consequences for serious crimes by waiting out the authorities.
Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Indiana
Learn about Indiana's criminal statute of limitations laws and related matters in the sections below. You can also visit FindLaw's Criminal Law Basics for more introductory information on this topic.
||Criminal statute of limitations
||A statute of limitations tells you the time frame when the prosecution must bring a charge for a crime.
||Indiana Code section 35-41-4-2
- A case for murder may be started at any time.
- Cases for a Class A felony (if committed before July 1, 2014) or a Level 1 or Level 2 felony (if committed after June 30, 2014) may be started at any time unless the victim was a minor at the time of the crime.
- Generally, cases for a Class B or C felony (if committed before July 1, 2014) or a Level 3, 4, 5, or 6 felony (if committed after June 30, 2014) must be started within 5 years.
- Cases for forgery must be started within 5 years after the forged document takes effect.
- Cases for misuse of certain funeral trust or escrow account funds must be started within 5 years after the death of the person who created or purchased the trust or account.
||Cases for any misdemeanor must be started within 2 years.
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
- For certain sex crimes against children, the case must start before the victim's 31st birthday unless the defendant confesses to the crime or the state discovers either DNA evidence or a recording that provides sufficient evidence to bring a charge against them. In those situations, the case must start within 5 years of the confession or the discovery of that evidence.
- For other sex crimes against children, if the victim is a dependent of the person who committed the crime, the case must start within 10 years after the crime or within 4 years after the victim stops being that person's dependent, whichever is later.
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
The "clock" for the time limit does not run when the defendant is:
- not a resident of Indiana
- outside the state
- in hiding from the authorities
- concealing evidence of the crime
- If someone confesses to a crime, the prosecution can still bring a case against them even if the time limit for the crime has expired.
- If the time limit for rape as a Class B felony (if committed before July 1, 2014) or a Level 3 felony (if committed after June 30, 2014) has expired but the defendant confesses or the state discovers either DNA evidence or a recording that provides sufficient evidence to bring a charge, a case can be started within 5 years of the confession or the discovery of that evidence.
- If the time limit for a Class B or C felony (if committed before July 1, 2014) or a Level 3, 4 or 5 felony (if committed after June 30, 2014) has expired but the state has discovered DNA evidence, a case may be brought within 1 year after that discovery.
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an Indiana criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Indiana Criminal Laws Related Resources:
Learn More About Indiana Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws from a Lawyer
Criminal charges are a very serious matter, and criminal statutes of limitations can vary depending on the crime and on the jurisdiction. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in Indiana, it's a good idea to contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and find out about your options moving forward.