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California Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

California's criminal statute of limitations sets limits for how long a prosecutor may wait to file formal criminal charges. As in other states, there is no time limit to bring charges for crimes such as murder or embezzlement of public funds. But lesser felonies have a 3-year statute of limitations, while misdemeanors are two to three years.

The following chart provides the basics of California criminal statute of limitations law. See Details on State Criminal Statute of Limitations for more general information.

Code Section Pen. §§799 et seq.
Felonies Murder, other offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment, embezzlement of public funds: none; offenses punishable by 8 or more years in prison: 6 yrs.; offenses punishable by imprisonment: 3 yrs.
Misdemeanors 1 yr.; misdemeanor violation committed on a minor under 14: 3 yrs.; sexual exploitation by physician or therapist: 2 yrs.
Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run Not in state, max. extension 3 yrs.; statutory periods do not begin until offense is or should have been discovered

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a California criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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