Iowa Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws
State criminal statute of limitations laws limit how long after a crime has been committed prosecutors have to file criminal charges. Iowa, like most states, has different limits depending on the type of crime involved. For example, misdemeanor charges have a one-year time limit for filing, while most felony charges have a three-year statute of limitations. There is no statutory limit on murder charges.
Criminal Statutes of Limitation in Iowa
The chart below highlights Iowa's criminal statutes of limitation and related matters.
|Topic||Criminal Statute of Limitations|
|Definition||The criminal statute of limitations is a time limit the state has for prosecuting a crime. Under Iowa law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you face, ranging from 1 year to no limit.|
|Code Section||Iowa Code Chapter 802, Sections 802.1 to 802.10|
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim||
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run||
What is the Purpose of a Time Limit?
In criminal cases, physical evidence (fingerprints and DNA) and testimonial evidence (officer statements and eyewitness accounts) can fade, degrade, or even disappear over time. Therefore, the sooner the prosecution and defense can get the evidence to trial, the better for both sides.
The length of particular statutes of limitation seeks to balance the interest in prosecuting serious offenses with the interest in conducting fair, speedy, and accurate criminal trials so that a person does not have a criminal charge hanging over his or her head indefinitely.
How is the Statute of Limitations Tolled?
Time limits for filing criminal charges run only when the suspect is visible and within the state where the crime was committed.
Tolling a statue of the limitations suspends the running of the time limit. If the suspect is out of state or otherwise in hiding, the statutory clock will pause and will resume running only when and if the criminal reenters the state. This prevents criminals from avoiding the consequences for serious crimes by simply running, hiding, and waiting out the authorities.
Iowa Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
State statutes of limitation in criminal cases can be complicated. You can find additional articles and resources in FindLaw's section on Criminal Law Basics. You can also contact an Iowa criminal defense attorney if you would like legal advice regarding a criminal issue.
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