Anytime a crime occurs, it's up to prosecutors to file criminal charges and begin the legal process. State criminal statute of limitations laws put a time limit on how long prosecutors have after the crime occurs to file charges. These time limits will generally vary depending on the type of crime involved: misdemeanor charges normally have shorter time limits than felony charges.
How Criminal Statutes of Limitations Work
Criminal statutes of limitations are designed to ensure criminal trials that are fair and based on the best possible evidence. Evidence of a crime, whether physical evidence like fingerprints or DNA or testimonial evidence like officer statements or eyewitness accounts, can fade over time or become useless or lost entirely. Statutes of limitations vary in length in an attempt to balance the interest in conducting accurate criminal trials with the interest in prosecuting the most serious offenses, while also not having criminal charges hanging over a person's head indefinitely.
Criminal Statutes of Limitations in New Mexico
New Mexico's criminal statute of limitations laws are highlighted below.
||Criminal statute of limitations
||A statute of limitations tells you the time frame when the prosecution must bring a charge for a crime.
||New Mexico Statutes sections 30-1-8 to 30-1-9.2
- There is no time limit for bringing a case for a capital or first-degree violent felony.
- A case for a second-degree felony must be started within 6 years.
- A case for a third- or fourth-degree felony must be started within 4 years.
- If a limitations period is not provided for a crime, a case for that crime must be started within 3 years.
- A case for a misdemeanor must be started within 2 years.
- A case for a petty misdemeanor must be started within 1 year.
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
||The statute of limitations does not run when:
- The defendant has fled the state;
- The defendant is not usually a resident of the state; or
- The case has to stop because of procedural problems. In these situations, the case can be brought again after the procedural problems are corrected, as long as 5 years have not passed since the first indictment.
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a New Mexico criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
More Resources for New Mexico Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws
Statutes of limitations can be confusing. For additional articles and resources on this topic, you can visit FindLaw's section on Criminal Law Basics. If you would like legal assistance with a criminal matter, you can consult with a New Mexico criminal defense attorney.