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Louisiana Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

Can you be charged with a crime from six months or six years ago? It's a valid question and an important one at times. Prosecutors have time limits when it comes to filing formal charges against defendants. These time limits are referred to as statutes of limitations.

The main reason for these limits is to ensure trials are conducted with evidence, whether it's eyewitness testimony or physical evidence, that has not yet been lost or compromised. As in other states, Louisiana criminal statute of limitations laws allow longer periods of time to file for rape, crimes against children, and other offenses where victims may not report the crime until years later.

Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Louisiana

Learn about Louisiana's criminal statute of limitation laws and related matters in the sections below.

State Louisiana
Topic Criminal statute of limitations
Definition A statute of limitations tells you the time frame when the prosecution must bring a charge for a crime.
Code Sections Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure articles 571 to 576
  • There is no time limit for any crime punishable by death or life imprisonment, or for forcible or second-degree rape.
  • For certain sex offenses committed against a child, the time limit is 30 years. This time begins when the victim turns 18.
  • Cases for felonies punishable by hard labor must start within 6 years.
  • Cases for felonies not punishable by hard labor must start within 4 years.
  • Cases for misdemeanors punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both must start within 2 years.
  • Cases for misdemeanors punishable only by a fine or forfeiture must start within 6 months.
Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
  • For certain sex offenses committed against a child, the time limit is 30 years. This time begins when the victim turns 18.
  • If the victim of aggravated battery is under 17 at the time of the crime, the statute of limitations does not start running until the victim turns 17.
Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run

The statute of limitations does not run when you:

  • are outside the state or not living where you usually live because you are hiding from the authorities; or
  • do not have the mental capacity to stand trial.
  • If the identity of the person who committed a sex offense is established through DNA evidence, a case may be started within 3 years of the date the identity is established even if the time limit for the crime has expired.
  • For crimes involving misuse of money, extortion, or false accounting by a public official or employee, or public bribery, the statute of limitations does not start running until that person leaves his or her position.
  • The time limit for exploitation of persons with infirmitiesvideo voyeurism, or crimes against the Firefighters' Retirement System does not start running until the crime is discovered.
  • For crimes against the Firefighters' Retirement System, the statute of limitations stops running when a civil suit has been filed.

Note: Because state laws change regularly, it's important to verify the laws you're researching by conducting your own legal research or contacting a knowledgeable Louisiana defense attorney.

Research the Law

Louisiana Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources

Criminal charges are a very serious matter, and criminal statutes can vary depending on the crime and on the jurisdiction. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, you can contact a Louisiana criminal defense attorney in your area to schedule a consultation. You can also visit FindLaw's Criminal Law Basics for more introductory information on this topic.

Are You a Suspect in a Criminal Case? Get Legal Help Today

Louisiana's statute of limitations laws can greatly impact your criminal case. Since the timelines can be difficult to follow, you should seek help from an experienced attorney who can apply their expertise of criminal law to the details of your case. Get started today by speaking with a Louisiana criminal defense attorney near you.

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