Washington Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws
States impose time limits for prosecutors to file criminal charges against defendants, to preserve evidence (both witnesses and physical evidence), and ensure an efficient judicial process. Time limits, or "statutes of limitation," apply to all crimes, both misdemeanors and felonies.
When Does A Statute Of Limitations Begin To Run?
Generally speaking, the time period begins to run on the date when a crime is alleged to have been committed. Once the statute of limitations has expired or "run," you can't be prosecuted for that crime in most circumstances.
Follow along as FindLaw explores the different time limits for certain criminal offenses in the state of Washington.
Crimes Without A Time Limit
Not all crimes are governed by statutes of limitation. In Washington, there are no time limits on filing charges for murder, homicide by abuse, and other serious felonies. This includes all types of murder, arson that leads to a death, and all vehicular crimes that involve death.
Washington's criminal statute of limitation laws are listed in the chart below.
See Criminal Law Basics for more information.
|Topic||Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws|
|Definition||The criminal statute of limitations is a time limit the state has for prosecuting a crime. Under Washington law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you face, ranging from one year to no time limit.|
|Code Sections||Revised Code of Washington Sec. 9A.04.080|
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim||
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run||When the person charged is not usually and publicly a resident within the state.|
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.
Research the Law
- Washington Law
- Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.
Washington Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
Get Legal Help to Better Understand Washington Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws
Although Washington's criminal statute of limitations laws appear to be fairly straight forward, the application of the laws can be complex. If you are worried that you might be prosecuted for an action that you have committed in the past, it is a good idea to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney in Washington.
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