The criminal statute of limitations in New York sets deadlines for when criminal charges may be filed. As the phrase implies, it "sets limits" for how long a prosecutor may wait to file formal charges. Like in most other states, there is no time limit to bring charges for crimes such as murder or crimes punishable by life in prison. But lesser felonies have five years statute of limitations, while most misdemeanors (but not all) are two years.
The following chart provides the basics of New York criminal statute of limitations law and a more in-depth look at the subject follows. See Details on State Criminal Statute of Limitations for more general information.
||Criminal Statute of Limitations
||The criminal statute of limitations is a time limit the state has for prosecuting a crime. Under New York law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you face, ranging from one year to no time limit.
||New York Criminal Procedure Law Sec. 30.10, et. seq.
Varies based on crime:
- Class A felonies: No time limit.
- Rape in the first degree: No time limit.
- Rape in the second degree: 20 years after the rape or within 10 years from when the rape is first reported to law enforcement, whichever occurs earlier.
- Larceny by a person in violation of a fiduciary duty: 1 year after act crime is discovered or should have been discovered.
- Any offense involving misconduct in public office by public servant: Duration of the public servant in public office, or 5 years after termination of public office.
- Any other felonies: 5 years.
- Misdemeanors: 2 years.
- Petty offense: 1 year.
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
- Sexual conduct against a child in the first degree: No time limit.
- Sexual conduct against a child in the second degree: 5 years.
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
||When the defendant is continuously outside of the state or the defendant's location is continuously unknown and cannot be determined. However, the period of limitation can never be extended by more than five years.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Purposes for Criminal Statutes of Limitations
Criminal statutes of limitations are not necessarily designed to exempt criminals. Instead, they are designed to protect innocents from the prejudicial effects of a delayed prosecution. In the time between when the alleged crime occurred and the start of the prosecution, you may have lost important evidence that shows you did not commit the crime. Evidence such as photographs, receipts, or phone records that may prove your innocence can be lost with time. The potential negative effect of losing this critical information is the reasoning behind statutes of limitations.
Statute of Limitations for Heinous Crimes
For some crimes that the New York state legislature has determined to be especially heinous, there is no statute of limitations. This means that the prosecution can charge someone with one of these crimes no matter how much time has passed since the alleged crime was committed. Crimes without statute of limitations include murder, any crime punishable by life in prison, and rape in the first degree.
Statute of Limitations for Other Felonies
For other felonies that are not especially heinous, the statute of limitations is five years.
Statute of Limitations for Misdemeanors
For most misdemeanors, the statute of limitations is two years. For petty offenses, the statute of limitations is one year.
When does the time limit start?
The time limit for the prosecution to bring its case begins when the crime was allegedly committed.
New York Criminal Statute of Limitations Related Resources
Suspected of a Crime? Get a Handle on Your Rights by Talking to a Lawyer
If you would like to know more about New York criminal statute of limitations laws, many private criminal defense attorneys throughout the state may be able to help. In addition to informing you of how long the statute of limitations is for a crime, they may also be able to help you defend your case if you are accused of one. Find out more by meeting with a New York defense attorney today.