Criminal Statutes of Limitations: Time Limits for State Charges

The time limits for when criminal charges can be filed are known as criminal statute of limitations. Prosecutors (both federal and state) are forbidden from charging someone with a crime beyond a specified amount of time.

Criminal statutes of limitations forbid prosecution for offenses that occurred prior to a specified time period. These laws can be varied and complex. Some states have several tiers of felonies and a different time set for each particular offense. Other states have no criminal statutes of limitations at all.

See all 50 state statutes of limitations in detail below.

In general, these statutes were enacted to ensure fair trials without the possibility of evidence deteriorating over time. If the statutory period for the offense has run out, there can be no prosecution, and the alleged criminal cannot face criminal charges.

Take Bill Cosby’s sexual assault allegations. While many allegations surfaced concerning Cosby assaulting women, only one relatively recent incident resulted in charges. This is because the statute of limitations had run out on most of the cases. In Pennsylvania, where the incidents occurred, the statute of limitations for sexual assault and rape is 12 years. This means that, because the incidents happened more than 12 years in the past, Cosby could not be prosecuted for them.

Tolling the Statutes of Limitations

In some cases, tolling of the statute of limitations may take place. This means that the statute of limitations is temporarily suspended, similar to pausing a timer. This generally occurs when a person who has committed a crime attempts to go into hiding.

Most often, state statutes of limitations have caveats that the alleged criminal must remain within the state, visible and employed. These nuances give law enforcement time to discover criminals living freely within the area. On the other hand, if an alleged criminal had been hiding or living out of state or out of the country, their statutory time clock would restart when they returned to the area.

No Statutes of Limitations for Some Crimes

Some crimes have no statutes of limitations. As an example, murder typically has none. Sexual crimes against minors and violent crimes have none in many states. In some states, crimes that involve public funds have no statutes of limitations.

In other jurisdictions, states rely on a classification system for felonies and utilize that in administering the statutes of limitations laws. For instance, the state of New York does not have a statute of limitations for first-degree murder, rape, Class A felonies, or some arsons and kidnappings. Beyond that, their statutes of limitations are complex and depend on the particular set of circumstances in many cases.

California statutes of limitations are a little different and less complex. Felonies like murder and other offenses that are punishable by life imprisonment or death have no statute of limitations nor does the embezzlement of public money. If the punishment for a crime is eight years or more in prison, the statute of limitations runs out in six years, and other offenses punishable by prison time have a statute that expires in three years.

In a few states, such as Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina, there is no statute of limitations on felony charges. A few others, including South Carolina and Wyoming, have no absolution from criminal charges at all.

For a better idea of the statutes of limitations for certain offenses in your area, take a look at the specific statutes for your state below. A criminal defense lawyer can often help give clients a better idea about whether a prosecutor can file charges against them. Likewise, it can be helpful for those who have been victims of crimes to know the statutes of limitations for those crimes to ensure they press charges within the appropriate time frame.

Alabama

Felonies: 3 years, except in the case of capital offenses, violent offenses, arson, forgery, counterfeiting, drug trafficking and any crimes involving minors.

Misdemeanors: 12 months

Code Section: Title 15, Chapter 3

When Statute Tolls: If an indictment is lost or destroyed and a new indictment is later issued, the time that elapsed between the two indictments does not count toward the statutory period.

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Alaska

Felonies: 10 years for most felonies; no statute of limitations for murder, attempted murder, murder-related offenses, felony sexual abuse of a minor, sexual assault, kidnapping and felonies committed against minors.

Misdemeanors: 5 years

Code Section: 12.10.010

When Statute Tolls: If a suspect goes into hiding, the statute of limitations may be extended by up to 3 years.

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Arizona

Felonies: 7 years for Class 2 through Class 6 felonies; no statute of limitations for capital offenses.

Misdemeanors: 12 months for misdemeanors; 6 months for petty offenses (any offense that would only warrant a fine)

Code Section: 13-107

When Statute Tolls: The statutory clock does not run when the suspect is a fugitive from the law or when the identity of a criminal suspect is unknown.

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Arkansas

Felonies: 6 years for a Class Y or Class A felony; 3 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder or for rape when a positive DNA match is established.

Misdemeanors: 1 year

Code Section: 5-1-109

When Statute Tolls: If a crime is discovered long after being committed, the statute of limitations may be extended by up to one year after the discovery of the crime, so long as no more than 10 years have passed since the crime occurred.

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California

Felonies: 6 years for murder and other capital offenses; 3 years for lower-level felonies.

Misdemeanors: 1 year for most misdemeanors; 3 years for misdemeanors committed against minors under the age of 14

Code Section: Penal Code Section 799-805

When Statute Tolls: There is a maximum extension of 3 years if a suspect leaves the state.

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Colorado

Felonies: 10 years for capital offenses including murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, treason, forgery and sexual assault; 3 years for other felonies.

Misdemeanors: 5 years for misdemeanor sexual assault; 1 year for other misdemeanors; 6 months for petty offenses

Code Section: 16-5-401

When Statute Tolls: There is a maximum extension of 5 years if a suspect leaves the state.

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Connecticut

Felonies: 5 years for most felonies; no statute of limitations for Class A felonies like murder, kidnapping, home invasion, first degree arson, aggravated sexual assault of a minor, and first degree sexual assault; In cases of sexual abuse or exploitation against a minor (except for those that are Class A felonies), the statute of limitations is 30 years from the victim’s 18th birthday or 5 years from the time that the victim notifies police (whichever occurs first).

Misdemeanors: 1 year

Code Section: 54-193

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Delaware

Felonies: 3 years for forgery, fraud, property theft or misconduct in public office; 5 years for all other felonies, unless forensic DNA evidence is found, in which case the statutory period is extended to 10 years; no statute of limitations for Class A felonies including murder or attempted murder.

Misdemeanors: 3 years for Class A misdemeanors; 3 years for all others

Code Section: Title 11 Section 205

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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District of Columbia

Felonies: No statute of limitations for first or second degree murder; 15 years for first or second degree sexual abuse; 10 years for other sexual crimes, including those committed against a minor; 3 years for all other felonies.

Misdemeanors: 3 years

Code Section: 23-113

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the district.

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Florida

Felonies: 4 years for first degree felonies; 3 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for crimes resulting in death nor for any crime that would warrant life imprisonment.

Misdemeanors: 2 years for first degree misdemeanors; 1 year for second degree misdemeanors

Code Section: 775.15

When Statute Tolls: There is a maximum extension of 3 years if a suspect leaves the state.

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Georgia

Felonies: 18 years for crimes committed against victims under 14; 15 years for forcible rape; 7 years for crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment; 4 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder.

Misdemeanors: 2 years

Code Section: 17-3-1

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state or during the period when the crime is unknown.

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Hawaii

Felonies: 10 years for manslaughter (non-vehicular); 6 years for Class A felonies; 3 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for first or second degree murder or attempted murder.

Misdemeanors: 2 years for general misdemeanors; 1 year for petty misdemeanors

Code Section: 701-108

When Statute Tolls: There is a maximum extension of 4 years if a suspect leaves the state or if prosecution is pending. In cases of fraud or breach of fiduciary duty, the statutory period may be extended by up to 6 years upon discovery. In cases of misconduct in public office, the statutory period may be extended by up to 3 years upon discovery.

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Idaho

Felonies: 5 years for most felonies; no statute of limitations for murder, voluntary manslaughter or rape; In cases of sexual abuse committed against a child under 16, the statutory period remains in effect until 5 years after the victim’s 18th birthday. In cases of ritualized abuse committed against a child, the statutory period remains in effect until 3 years after the victim discloses the crime.

Misdemeanors: 1 year

Code Section: 19-401 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Illinois

Felonies: 10 years for criminal sexual assault or aggravated sexual abuse; 3 years for most other felonies; no statute of limitations for crimes related to murder, manslaughter, homicide, treason, arson or forgery; In cases of incestuous sexual conduct or sexual abuse of a minor, the statutory period extends to one year after the victim turns 18. In cases of criminal sexual assault against a minor, the statutory period lasts 20 years after the victim’s 18th birthday.

Misdemeanors: 18 months

Code Section: 720 ILCS 5/3-5; 5/3-7

When Statute Tolls: The statutory period may be extended indefinitely if there is a pending nonresident prosecution.

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Indiana

Felonies: 5 years for most felonies; no statute of limitations for murder or for Class A felonies; The statutory period for sex crimes committed against minors ends when the victim reaches 31 years of age.

Misdemeanors: 2 years

Code Section: 35-41-4-2

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state. The statutory period may also be extended by one year after DNA evidence emerges.

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Iowa

Felonies: 3 years for general felonies; no statute of limitations for first or second degree murder; 10 years for sex abuse crimes; If the victim of a sex crime is a minor, the statutory period ends 10 years after the victim turns 18.

Misdemeanors: 3 years for serious misdemeanors; 1 year for simple misdemeanors

Code Section: 802 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Kansas

Felonies: 10 years for sexually violent crimes other than rape committed against an adult; 10 years beyond the 18th birthday of the victim of sexually violent crimes other than rape committed against a child; 5 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder, rape, aggravated criminal sodomy, terrorism or use of weapons of mass destruction.

Misdemeanors: 5 years

Code Section: 21-5107

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect is hidden or out of state. Additionally, it does not run when the crime is concealed or when the suspect is facing pending prosecution for the same type of crime.

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Kentucky

Felonies: No statute of limitations.

Misdemeanors: 1 year

Code Section: 500.050

Statute Tolls: If a minor is a victim of a misdemeanor, prosecution may be pursued for up to 5 years after the victim’s 18th birthday.

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Louisiana

Felonies: 6 years for felonies punishable by hard labor; 4 years for felonies not punishable by hard labor; 10 years for sex crimes committed against children (the clock begins when the victim turns 18); no statute of limitations for murder, rape or any crime punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Misdemeanors: 2 years for crimes punishable by prison time; 6 months for all others

Code Section: Crim. Proc. Art. 571 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect is hidden or out of state or if the suspect lacks the mental capacity to stand trial.

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Maine

Felonies: 8 years for unlawful sexual contact or gross sexual assault; 6 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder, first or second degree homicide, incest or sexual assault crimes committed against a victim under the age of 16.

Misdemeanors: 3 years

Code Section: Title 17-A, Section 8 of the Maine Criminal Code

When Statute Tolls: There is a maximum extension of 5 years if the suspect leaves the state or if prosecution is pending.

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Maryland

Felonies: 3 years for vehicular manslaughter or homicide, welfare fraud, Medicare fraud, wage discrimination, unauthorized medical practice or tax-related offenses; 2 years for election law violations or criminal malfeasance by an officer; 1 year for assault, libel or slander; no statute of limitations for murder.

Misdemeanors: No statute of limitations for misdemeanors punishable by prison (as opposed to jail) time; 1 year for other misdemeanors

Code Section: 5-106 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: None

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Massachusetts

Felonies: 15 years for rape and sexual assault crimes against children; 10 years for robbery or intent to rob/murder with a deadly weapon; 6 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder.

Misdemeanors: 6 years

Code Section: Chapter 277, Section 63

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state. For sex crimes involving children, the clock does not run until the child turns 16 or the crime is first reported, whichever occurs first.

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Michigan

Felonies: 10 years for kidnapping, extortion, sex crimes against minors or assault with intent to murder; 6 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder.

Misdemeanors: 6 years

Code Section: 767.24

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Minnesota

Felonies: 9 years for criminal sexual misconduct; 6 years for bribery, theft or medical assistance fraud; 5 years for arson or environmental offenses; 3 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder.

Misdemeanors: 3 years

Code Section: 628.26

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Mississippi

Felonies: 6 years for larceny of timber; 5 years for conspiracy, assistance-program fraud or abuse of vulnerable persons; 2 years for other felonies; There is no statute of limitations for murder, manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, arson, domestic violence, burglary, forgery, robbery, counterfeiting, embezzlement, obtaining money by fraud, human trafficking, child abuse or sex crimes against children.

Misdemeanors: 2 years

Code Section: 99-1-5

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Missouri

Felonies: 3 years for most felonies; 10 years for sex crimes involving minors under 17; no statute of limitations for murder or Class A felonies; If fraud is uncovered, prosecution can commence within 3 years of discovery.

Misdemeanors: 1 year for misdemeanors; 6 months for infractions

Code Section: 556.036

When Statute Tolls: If a suspect goes into hiding or resides outside the state, the statute of limitations may be extended by up to 3 years.

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Montana

Felonies: 5 years for most felonies; no statute of limitations for deliberate or negligent homicide; If a sex crime is committed against a minor, prosecution may commence within 10 years of the victim’s 18th birthday.

Misdemeanors: 1 year for most misdemeanors; 3 years for crimes related to fish, wildlife and outdoor activity laws

Code Section: 45-1-205 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Nebraska

Felonies: 3 years for most felonies; no statute of limitations for murder, treason, arson or forgery; If a minor under the age of 16 is the victim of sexual assault, kidnapping, child abuse or pandering, prosecution can commence 7 years from the date of the offense or by the victim’s 16th birthday, whichever comes later.

Misdemeanors: 18 months

Code Section: 29-110

When Statute Tolls: If the suspect is fleeing from justice, the statutory period may be extended indefinitely.

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Nevada

Felonies: 4 years for sexual assault, theft, robbery, burglary, forgery or arson; 3 years for most other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder; A victim of child sexual abuse can file a complaint until the age of 36 if he or she discovered or “reasonably should have discovered” the abuse by that time. If the victim reasonably should not have discovered the abuse up to that point, he or she can file a complaint up to the age of 43.

Misdemeanors: 2 years for gross misdemeanors; 1 year for all others

Code Section: 171.080 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: In cases of crimes committed against minors, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin to run until the victim’s 18th birthday.

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New Hampshire

Felonies: 6 years for Class A felonies and Class B felonies; 2 years for misconduct in public office; 1 year for breach of fiduciary duty; no statute of limitations for murder; If a minor is the victim of a sex crime, a complaint may be filed within 22 years of his or her 18th birthday.

Misdemeanors: 1 year; 3 months for violations

Code Section: 625:8

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run when the suspect is absent from the state or is already facing prosecution for the same conduct.

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New Jersey

Felonies: 5 years for most felonies; no statute of limitations for murder or manslaughter; If a minor is a victim of a crime, prosecution must be commenced no more than five years after the victim’s 18th birthday or two years after the discovery of the crime, whichever is later.

Misdemeanors: 1 year for petty offenses

Code Section: 2C: 1-6

When Statute Tolls: If the suspect is fleeing from justice or facing prosecution for the same conduct, the statutory period may be extended indefinitely.

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New Mexico

Felonies: No statute of limitations for first degree felonies; 6 years for second degree felonies; 5 years for third and fourth degree felonies; 3 years for other felonies.

Misdemeanors: 2 years for misdemeanors; 1 year for petty misdemeanors

Code Section: 30-1-8

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state. If DNA evidence is discovered but not matched with a suspect, the clock does not run until a suspect is positively identified.

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New York

Felonies: 6 years for crimes punishable by 8 or more years in prison; 3 years for lesser felonies; no statute of limitations for murder or other capital offenses.

Misdemeanors: 1 year for general misdemeanors; 3 years for misdemeanors committed against children under the age of 14

Code Section: Penal Law 799 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: If a suspect goes into hiding, the statute of limitations may be extended by up to 3 years.

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North Carolina

Felonies: No statute of limitations.

Misdemeanors: 2 years for general misdemeanors; no statute of limitations for malicious misdemeanors (those committed with willful malice)

Code Section: 15-1

When Statute Tolls: Not applicable

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North Dakota

Felonies: 3 years for most felonies; 10 years (or 3 years upon indictment) for sexual abuse against minors; 7 years for human trafficking; no statute of limitations for murder.

Misdemeanors: 2 years

Code Section: 29-04-01 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Ohio

Felonies: 20 years for high-level felonies like rape, assault, conspiracy, sexual assault against a minor, sexual battery and kidnapping; 2 years for misconduct in public office; 6 years for other non-capital offenses; no statute of limitations for murder.

Misdemeanors: 2 years for general misdemeanors; 6 months for petty misdemeanors

Code Section: 2901.13

When Statute Tolls: If the suspect is fleeing from justice or facing prosecution for the same conduct, the statutory period may be extended indefinitely.

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Oklahoma

Felonies: 7 years for embezzlement of public money, bribery, rape and indecent acts against children; 5 years for general embezzlement, criminal conspiracy, income tax violations; 3 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder.

Misdemeanors: 3 years

Code Section: 22-151 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Oregon

Felonies: 6 years for sexual felonies; 3 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder or manslaughter.

Misdemeanors: 4 years

Code Section: 131.125

When Statute Tolls: When a minor is a victim of a sex crime, the clock does not begin to run until the victim turns 18.

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Pennsylvania

Felonies: 12 years for major sexual offenses like rape and sexual assault; 5 years for major offenses like criminal conspiracy, robbery and aggravated assault; 2 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for crimes related to murder, homicide or manslaughter; There is an additional 8-year statute of limitations for misconduct in office and an additional 3-year statute of limitations for fraud.

Misdemeanors: 2 years

Code Section: Title 42, Section 5551-5554

When Statute Tolls: If the suspect is fleeing from justice or facing prosecution for the same conduct, the statutory period may be extended indefinitely. When a minor is a victim of a sex crime, the clock does not begin to run until the victim turns 18.

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Rhode Island

Felonies: 10 years for larceny, bribery, embezzlement, extortion, antitrust violations and racketeering; 7 years for water pollution; 3 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for major crimes like murder, treason, arson, burglary, forgery, robbery, rape, drug crimes, sexual assault and child molestation.

Misdemeanors: 3 years

Code Section: 12-12-17

When Statute Tolls: If an indictment has been stolen or destroyed, a new indictment may be filed within one year regardless of the elapsed time.

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South Carolina

Felonies: No statutes of limitations.

Misdemeanors: No statutes of limitations

Code Section: The South Carolina Code of Laws does not address statutes of limitations.

When Statute Tolls: Not applicable

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South Dakota

Felonies: No statute of limitations for Class A, Class B or Class C felonies, including murder; All other crimes carry a 7-year statute of limitations.

Misdemeanors: 7 years

Code Section: 23A-42-1

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Tennessee

Felonies: 15 years for Class A felonies; 8 years for Class B felonies; 4 years for Class C or Class D felonies; 2 years for Class E felonies; 3 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder or any crime punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Misdemeanors: 12 months for general misdemeanors; 6 months for those related to gaming

Code Section: 40-2-101

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state or while the crime is being concealed.

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Texas

Felonies: 10 years for estate theft, forgery, injury to a disabled or elderly individual, arson and compelling prostitution; 7 years for money laundering, fraud, identity theft, felony tax crimes and bigamy; 5 years for theft, burglary, robbery, child endangerment and insurance fraud; 3 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder, manslaughter or serious sex crimes (including those committed against children).

Misdemeanors: 2 years

Code Section: Article 12.01 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Utah

Felonies: 4 years for negligent homicide; 3 years for breach of fiduciary obligation; no statute of limitations for murder, homicide, manslaughter, child abuse, rape, sexual assault, kidnapping or sex crimes against children; no statute of limitations for crimes that involve collected DNA evidence waiting to be matched with a suspect; Once a suspect is identified, authorities have one year to act if the statute of limitations for the crime has otherwise run out.

Misdemeanors: 2 years for misdemeanors; 1 year for infractions

Code Section: 76-1-301 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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Vermont

Felonies: 40 years for sex crimes against minors and manslaughter against minors; 6 years for manslaughter, sexual assault, lewd conduct, sexual abuse against vulnerable adults, sexual exploitation of children, robbery, embezzlement, burglary, felony tax crimes, bribery, forgery, fraud and false claims; 3 years for other felonies; no statute of limitations for murder, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault or arson that results in death.

Misdemeanors: 3 years

Code Section: Title 13, Section 4501-4511

When Statute Tolls: Not specified in the Vermont Statutes.

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Virginia

Felonies: 3 years for tax evasion, dumping or discharging toxic substances, sale of wild animals or freshwater fish; 2 years for malfeasance in office or building code violations; no statute of limitations for major crimes like murder, rape or sexual assault.

Misdemeanors: 1 year for most misdemeanors; 5 years for petit larceny; 2 years for attempt to produce an abortion

Code Section: 19-2-8, Title 8.01-243 et seq.

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run during the period that a suspect is fleeing justice.

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Washington

Felonies: 10 years for rape (if reported within 1 year of commission), arson or misconduct in office; 6 years for criminal profiteering or organized crime leadership; 5 years for Class C felonies; 3 years for lesser felonies; no statute of limitations for murder, arson causing death or any type of vehicular incident resulting in death; If a child under 14 is the victim of rape, the statutory period can extend until 3 years after the victim’s 18th birthday even if the 10-year statutory period has passed.

Misdemeanors: 2 years for gross misdemeanors; 1 year for other misdemeanors

Code Section: 9A.04.080

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect resides outside the state.

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West Virginia

Felonies: There are no statutes of limitations for felonies in West Virginia.

Misdemeanors: 3 years for perjury charges; 1 year for all other misdemeanors

Code Section: 61-11-9

When Statute Tolls: If an indictment is stolen, lost or destroyed, a new indictment may be issued, and any time that elapsed between the loss of the first indictment and the processing of the second indictment would not be counted as part of the statutory period.

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Wisconsin

Felonies: 6 years for most felonies; no statute of limitations for intentional or reckless homicide or murder; If a minor child has suffered intentional or reckless bodily harm or mental harm, or if a minor child has been given or sold a controlled substance, the statutory period does not end until the victim reaches 26 years of age. If a minor child is the victim of a sex crime, the statutory period does not end until the victim reaches the age of 31.

Misdemeanors: 3 years

Code Section: 939.74

When Statute Tolls: The clock does not run while the suspect remains hidden or resides outside the state. In addition, the statutory period may be extended “due to the effects of the sexual contact or due to any threats, instructions or statements from the therapist.”

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Wyoming

Felonies: No statute of limitations

Misdemeanors: No statute of limitations

Code Section: Wyoming law does not address criminal statutes of limitations.

When Statute Tolls: Not applicable

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The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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