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Understanding Statutes of Limitations

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

Do you know what a statute of limitations is or what effect it can have on certain criminal acts?


Whether you’re accused of a crime at some point or you’ve been the victim of a crime and need to know the deadline for filing a complaint or police report, it’s important to understand these laws. 


What is a statute of limitations?

This is simply a law that creates a deadline for legal proceedings surrounding a criminal or civil offense. The length of time allowed to initiate proceedings is often determined by the severity of the offense. After the statute of limitations is up for a particular crime, no charges can be filed. 


Why do we have them?

Many states enacted statutes of limitations because physical evidence can deteriorate (or be lost) if too much time lapses. Memories can become fuzzy. Eyewitnesses can move away and be hard to track down. 


Are these laws the same for every crime in every state? 

The short answer is no. However, the statute of limitations for certain crimes is similar in many states


Murder charges can generally be brought at any time with no statute of limitations. In several states, some offenses involving minors or involving public funds fraud have no statute of limitations. 


Keep in mind that these laws can change. Florida is revisiting its statute of limitations laws regarding particular crimes carried out against minors, for example. 


If you have questions about the statute of limitations for a particular case, please don’t hesitate to reach out today

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