How Does the Statute of Limitations Work

How does the statute of limitations work in Texas law? Most people have heard about the statute of limitations in criminal cases. How they apply to a particular criminal case can be confusing. The statute of limitations is the time period the police or prosecuting agency has to charge a person with a crime. Once that time period passes the person can no longer be charged with that particular crime.

The statute of limitations starts counting down for a crime when the alleged offense occurred. The length of statute of limitations depends on what crime is alleged. Misdemeanors have a two-year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for felonies are more complicated. The general rule is a 3-year statute of limitations. For crimes like robbery and felony theft the time length is 5 years. For crimes like financial fraud and identity theft the statute of limitations is 7 years. Forgery and arson have a 10-year statute of limitations. There is no statute of limitations for violent crimes such as murder, manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault, and sex crimes against children.

The counting of the statute of limitations is paused when the prosecutor’s office brings a criminal charge. That is done by indictment or information. The counting doesn’t start up again until the case is dismissed. The official name for the statute of limitations being paused is tolling or tolled.

There is one way to get a case dismissed after the prosecution brings and indictment or information. A criminal lawyer can file a motion to have a case dismissed. This happens if there has been a long delay by the government between bringing the charge and a court date. The burden is on the defense and is hard to prove enough harm to cause a judge to dismiss the criminal case.

The other way the statute of limitations is paused or tolled is if the defendant has left the state. If a person flees the jurisdiction to avoid prosecution, the statute of limitations is paused. The law doesn’t reward people who avoid prosecution by going on the run.

If you are charged with a criminal charge in Texas and want to know how the statute of limitations work in Texas contact an experienced criminal attorney. A good criminal lawyer can explain how the statute of limitations works in Texas and anything else that is important about your case.

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