Statutes of Limitations for Crimes Differ Across State Lines

Do you know what the statutes of limitations for crimes are in your state? Or, do you even know what statutes of limitations are? Let’s start there.

Statutes of Limitations are laws that limit the amount of time a victim of a crime has to come forward and make a legal complaint against the person that is responsible for the crime. These laws can be limited to just one year, 10 years, or until the victim reaches a certain age when it comes to certain crimes. Some crimes are considered so heinous that they have no limit, such as first-degree murder.

What happens when the set statutes of limitation time is up? Sadly, the person who is responsible for the crime can no longer be brought to court or held liable for their prior crimes. While this may seem unfair, these limitations are put in place because the length of time can affect how accurate the evidence for the case is, and even the quality of the case. A witness’ 30 year old memory may have inaccuracies in it, as opposed to if they testified just 5 years after the crime occurred.

Which crimes do have statutes of limitations set on them? Some include arson, robbery, money laundering, identify theft, rape, and sexual crimes against children. Although some states have set statutes of limitations for unspecified crimes that fall under various categories such as felonies, violations, hunting offences, fraud, forgery, etc.

The statutes of limitations can differ widely from state to state. For example, the statute of limitation for arson is 10 years in Alaska but only 3 years in California and Colorado. When it comes to forgery Nevada’s statute of limitation is just 4 years while Nebraska has none. Find the statutes of limitations on crime for all 50 states with this interactive map.

With the statutes of limitation for crime varying so drastically between states, a select few have stood together and decided to not have any statutes of limitations placed on crimes. These four states are Wyoming, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

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