Understanding the Statutes of Limitations in Criminal Cases

It is incredibly important, though, to check with your area’s specific rules, such as the MA statute of limitations, before filing your case. As time passes, the event’s details might become cloudy, and it may be difficult to recall things that you did not write down at the time. Moreover, it is best to check directly with your state’s civil code or speak with an attorney to understand better what rules you need to abide by. You also want to ensure that you know the statute of limitations before getting excited about a potential new lead in your case.

How many years does the statute of limitations last?

This will depend on several factors – most importantly, where you live and what kind of case we’re talking about. In most states, you will have two or three years to file your case. However, in certain cases (usually involving fraud), the time frame may be extended to six years. Remember that if you live in a state with different statutes than another state or federal court, then the law of your resident state would apply.

Luckily, many states will (stop) the statute of limitations while someone is out of the state, whether due to military service, imprisonment, mental illness, etc. Be aware that simply leaving the state without telling anyone does not stop or suspend your statute of limitations; legal action must be taken before it expires for this to happen. The only thing that suspending the statute would do is allow an additional amount of time to file a case while not technically starting the clock over.

What is the statute of limitations on sex crimes?

  • If you have been accused of committing some sex crime, you need to be very aware of your state’s particular laws. While there are no definitive answers here, these crimes often fall under different statutes than other types of cases. These rules may vary depending on whether the victim was an adult at the time or if it happened recently or long ago – but most states are fairly consistent in this area.
  • For sexual assault, where the victim did not sustain any physical injuries, most states will only give you two to four years to file your case. However, if this involves a minor, the law is typically much stricter, and you have just two years to file your claim. Actual rape charges are usually just the same, but there is no time limit for cases involving minors in some states.
  • Sexual abuse or lewd conduct towards a minor is most often given just three years to bring charges forward after reaching adulthood – unless the case involves photos or film, in which case it’s five. This also only applies if the victim was an adult when this happened; there are no statutes of limitations on sex crimes against children under the age of eighteen. This means that no matter how long ago these alleged events took place, there would be absolutely no reason why you couldn’t bring up criminal charges (although civil suits become more complicated).
  • For other forms of sex crimes, the statutes of limitations vary. In some states, soliciting a prostitute gives you just six years to file your case after reaching adulthood – unless this involves a child, in which case it’s three. For sexual acts with minors, this would be just four years. The same goes for indecent exposure and lewd conduct open to public view – if the victim was an adult, you have two years to file a case, but if it involved a minor, then just one year applies.

Even though there is no set limit for how much time has to pass before a case expires, it still doesn’t hurt to be aware of what’s going on in your state just in case an old crime comes back into the light.