The state must file criminal charges within a certain period of time, called the criminal statute of limitations. These time limits vary by the type of crime, and the most serious crimes, such as murder, often have no statute of limitations. The clock usually begins running on the day the crime was committed, but time may be paused temporarily if the suspect is either living out of state or otherwise attempting to evade law enforcement.
For instance, someone who has committed a felony in a state where the statute of limitations is three years cannot simply hide out until the time runs out. Once the individual returns and lives openly in the state where the crime was committed, the clock will begin running again.
These time limits serve to balance interests and maintain fairness, accuracy, and efficiency. The statutes of limitations help preserve evidence (including witness testimony) and prevent prosecutors from threatening criminal charges indefinitely. Time limits usually differ according to crime classification, felony or misdemeanor, for example.
North Dakota Criminal Statute of Limitations at a Glance
As in virtually all other states, North Dakota does not have a statute of limitations for murder. Additionally, when the victim of the crime is under the age of 15, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until he or she reaches 15. All misdemeanors in the state have a two-year statute of limitations.
Additional details of North Dakota's time limits for criminal charges are listed below. See Time Limits to Bring a Case: The Statute of Limitations to learn about similar time limits used in civil law.
||Criminal Statute of Limitations
||The criminal statute of limitations is a time limit the state has for prosecuting a crime. Under North Dakota law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you face, ranging from 2 years to no limit.
||N.D.C.C. Sections 29-04-01 to 29-04-05
- Murder: none
- Sexual assault (gross sexual imposition) or human trafficking: 7 years
- Other felonies: 3 years
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
- Sexual abuse: 21 years or if not reported to authorities within that period, 3 years after reporting; or 3 years from the time the offender is identified by DNA or fingerprint evidence
- Sex offenses or human trafficking, if the victim is under the age of 15 the applicable statute of limitations does not begin to run until the victim turns 15 years old
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
||Any time the defendant is outside the state
Note: State laws may change at any time through a number of ways, including the enactment of newly signed legislation and the decisions of higher courts. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact a North Dakota criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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North Dakota Criminal Statute of Limitations: Related Resources