A statute of limitations is a restriction on how long a person or entity may wait before taking legal action on a matter. There are statutes of limitations in both civil and criminal cases. The criminal statute of limitations establishes time limits for how soon after a crime prosecutors must file formal charges against a suspect.
These time limits serve a couple of purposes. First, it ensures that criminal charges are handled with more efficiency and urgency. But these limits also help preserve the integrity of evidence, including eyewitness testimony that may become unreliable with the passage of time. In Texas as in other states, serious felonies such as murder and certain sexual assaults are not bound by any statute of limitations.
A summary of the Texas criminal statute of limitations is in the table below. See the links following this article for additional resources. For more information, you can also check out these articles: Details on State Criminal Statute of Limitations and Criminal Law Basics.
||Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws
||The criminal statute of limitations is a time limit the state has for prosecuting a crime. Under Texas law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you face, ranging from two years to no time limit.
||Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 12.01, et seq.
Time limits for felonies include the following:
- Murder: No time limit.
- Manslaughter: No time limit.
- Certain sexual assaults (including sexual abuse of a child): No time limit or 10 years.
- Hit and run resulting in death: No time limit.
- Certain human trafficking offenses: No time limit or 10 years.
- Compelling prostitution to a child younger than 18 years old: No time limit.
- Thefts involving fiduciaries or officials: 10 years.
- Forgery: 10 years.
- Injury to an elderly or disabled person: 10 years.
- Arson: 10 years.
- Compelling prostitution: 10 years.
- Misapplication of fiduciary property or property of a financial institution: 7 years.
- Execution of document by deception: 7 years.
- Money laundering: 7 years.
- Certain tax crimes: 7 years.
- Fraud: 7 years.
- Identity theft: 7 years.
- Credit card or debit card abuse: 7 years.
- Exploitation of a child or elderly person: 7 years.
- Bigamy: 7 years.
- Other theft, burglary, and robbery offenses: 5 years
- Insurance fraud: 5 years
- Abandoning or endangering a child: 5 years
- All other felonies not specifically referenced in the code section: 3 years.
For many of the crimes listed above, if the victim is under the age of seventeen when the crime is committed, the statute of limitations is typically extended from 10 to 20 years.
|| The statute of limitations is two years from the date the crime was committed and not afterward.
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
- Sexual abuse of young children: No time limit.
- Indecency with a child: No time limit.
- Prostitution to a child younger than 18 years old: No time limit.
- Exploitation of a child: 7 years.
- Abandoning or endangering a child: 5 years.
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
||The statute of limitations does not run when the accused is not in the state. It also does not while a criminal indictment, information, or complaint is pending. The day the crime was committed and the day of the indictment do not count toward the limitation period.
- The limitation period for aggravated (in most cases) and attempted crimes is the same as that of the underlying crimes.
- The limitation period for criminal conspiracy or organized criminal activity is the same as that of the most serious offense of the underlying crimes.
- The limitation period for criminal solicitation is the same as that of the crime that was solicited.
- See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 12.03
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Texas Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
Learn More About Texas Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws from a Lawyer
Perhaps you have not been charged with a crime but you are a suspect and hope the statute of limitations will run out before you are arrested. In any event, criminal charges often result in prison terms or a period of probation and are best defended by an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you have questions about a criminal charge or potential criminal charge, it is in your best interest to speak with a criminal defense attorney in Texas today.