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  3. Do Statutes of Limitation Apply in Arizona Criminal Cases?

Do Statutes of Limitation Apply in Arizona Criminal Cases?

Apr 9, 2024 | Statute of Limitations

Most people are aware that statutes of limitations generally provide time limits for commencing a civil lawsuit. But are you aware that statutes of limitations also apply in some – but not all – criminal prosecutions as well? What this means, generally, is that if you are not charged with a particular offense within the time period applicable to that crime, the case is barred, and you may not be charged with the offense thereafter.

Of course, as in many areas of criminal law, there are exceptions, and exceptions to those exceptions. In the end, while the statute of limitations for most offenses can be readily obtained from the penal code (specifically, A.R.S. 13-107), that statute covers most, but not all, statute of limitations issues regarding criminal charges.

General Rules on Criminal Statutes of Limitations

The law is fairly clear when it comes to identifying the time period for bringing certain criminal charges. For example:

  • Petty offenses – 6 months
  • Misdemeanors – 1 year
  • Class 2 through class 6 felonies – 7 years

Note that the time period begins to run when the crime occurred, or when it should have been discovered. It ends with the filing of an indictment or information, or a criminal complaint.

The law in this area would be fairly simple if these were the only rules governing time periods for commencing a criminal case. But, as you might have guessed, the exceptions make the analysis somewhat more complicated. Here are a few examples:

If you are accused of a moving motor vehicle violation which allegedly resulted in death or serious injury, the statute of limitations is 2 years. And in the case of murder, conspiracy to commit murder resulting in death, certain felony weapons offenses, stealing public funds, and a number of other crimes, there is no statute of limitations at all. There are also rules regarding when the statute begins to run. If, for example, the defendant is outside the state of Arizona or has no known place of residence here, the statute does not begin to run during that period. Finally, in the case of serious crimes (including murder, sexual assault, dangerous crimes against children, armed robbery, and others, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the defendant is identified.

If you have questions regarding the statute of limitation in criminal cases, speak to an experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer today.

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