State laws place limits on how much time prosecutors have to file criminal charges against suspects. These time limits are called criminal statutes of limitations. Most states have different limits for different kinds of crimes, but North Carolina is unique in this regard. North Carolina's criminal statute of limitations is two years for most misdemeanors, and there is no statute of limitations for felonies or crimes classified as "malicious" misdemeanors.
Learn about North Carolina's criminal statutes of limitations in the table below. Related resources and information can be accessed using the links at the end of this article or by checking out FindLaw's Criminal Law Basics.
||Criminal statute of limitations
||A statute of limitations tells you the time frame when the prosecution must bring a charge for a crime.
||North Carolina General Statutes section 15-1
||A case for any felony can be started at any time.
Generally, a case for any misdemeanor that is not classified as a "malicious misdemeanor" must be started within 2 years. A case for a "malicious misdemeanor" can be started at any time. These misdemeanors contain an element of malice, which means the accused was malicious in carrying out the crime. Cases for the following misdemeanors must be started within 10 years:
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
||As outlined above, all felonies and malicious misdemeanors involving child victims have no statute of limitations, and many misdemeanor crimes against children must be started within 10 years.
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
- A case for deceit, malicious mischief, or petit larceny (where the value of the property does not exceed $5) must be started within 2 years.
- If a case has to be stopped because a pleading is defective, a new case can be started within 1 year of the date the case stopped.
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 a North Carolina defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
North Carolina Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
Learn More About North Carolina Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws from a Lawyer
If you've been charged with a crime or anticipate criminal charges in North Carolina, you'll want to do whatever you can to present your side of the story and defend yourself. The best way to do this is to consult with a criminal defense attorney who has experience dealing with similar matters and can provide legal advice on how to proceed with your case. Defendants may also seek assistance from the Office of Indigent Defense Services if they cannot afford to hire a private attorney.