Are All Crimes Subject to a Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations specifies how long a person or entity can wait before taking legal action on a matter.  You may have heard it mentioned in relation to a personal injury case or another civil lawsuit. However, the state of Texas must also bring a criminal case against individuals within a specified time.

If a prosecutor doesn’t file formal charges before the time runs out, the court can bar them from doing so. What is important to note is that this doesn’t apply to all crimes or all circumstances. If the police formally arrested you and charged you with a crime, you need to have an experienced attorney on your side. They will investigate whether the statute of limitations has passed regarding the matter.

The Statute of Limitations Explained by a Houston, Texas Criminal Attorney

The statute of limitations is designed to ensure that criminal charges don’t hang over a defendant’s head for years. It is also intended to ensure that criminal cases are dealt with as efficiently as possible. The longer it takes for a matter to get to court, the more likely it is that the evidence will degrade. Witnesses may also not have a clear memory of what occurred.

Despite this fact, you’re not automatically off the hook just because an incident happened a long time ago. Some crimes don’t have a statute of limitations attached to them.  You can be charged with serious offenses like murder, child sexual abuse, and some human trafficking crimes at any time. If you are facing charges related to a hit and run which caused death, the state can also charge you at any time. It doesn’t matter whether 30 or 40 years have passed since the incident.

For some crimes, the statute of limitations in Texas is ten years. These include:

  • Arson
  • Compelling prostitution
  • Theft involving officials or fiduciaries
  • Causing injury to an elderly or disabled person

Those which the state can prosecute for up to seven years after the incident include:

  • Bigamy
  • Identity theft
  • Money laundering
  • Fraud

The statute of limitation stands at five years for

  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Insurance fraud
  • Abandoning or endangerment of a child

The state can bring some other felony charges for up to three years after the incident. For misdemeanor offenses, the statute of limitations usually runs for two years. However, if the victim was under the age of 17 when the crime was committed, the time is usually extended. Your attorney will advise you on the peculiarities of your case.

How Your Criminal Lawyer Will Use the Statute of Limitations to Defend You

The state can technically bring a case against you even if the time has passed. However, they can only do this if neither you nor your attorney brings up the statute. In order to benefit from the statute, your criminal lawyer in Houston must petition for the dismissal of the case. If you don’t have legal representation or your lawyer is inexperienced, you will be at a disadvantage.

An experienced lawyer will challenge the timeframe within which the case was brought to argue for a dismissal. They may also use it to reduce the number of charges you face if you’ve been accused of multiple offenses. The burden would be on the prosecutor to prove that the relevant period hasn’t expired. The statute of limitations defense can only be used at or before the stage where you plead guilt or innocence. It is, therefore, important that you have a lawyer who is competent, thorough, and experienced.

Contact Eddington & Worley Criminal Lawyers to Discuss Your Case Today!

The statute of limitations for criminal cases is not just a technicality. It has a significant bearing on whether the state can bring a case against you. While it doesn’t apply to all cases, it can be an important part of your defense when it does apply. That’s why you must have a Houston criminal defense lawyer on your side. We will look at all aspects of your case to ensure you get the best outcome.

The statute of limitations exists to protect you from facing charges when the evidence and witnesses are no longer reliable.  While many factors can affect how the statute is applied, your lawyer can have a major impact on your situation. If you want sound legal advice about your criminal case, contact Eddington & Worley today to set up a consultation. We will do everything we can to protect your rights and ensure you’re treated fairly in court.

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