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Louisiana Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

Can you be charged with a crime from six months or six years ago? It's a valid question and an important one at times. Prosecutors have time limits when it comes to filing formal charges against defendants. These time limits are collectively referred to as the statute of limitations.

The main reason for these limits it to ensure convictions are obtained with evidence, whether it's eyewitness testimony or physical evidence, that has not yet been lost of compromised. As in other states, Louisiana criminal statute of limitations laws allow longer periods of time for rape, crimes against children, and other offenses where victims may not report the crime until years later.

Criminal Statutes of Limitation in Louisiana

Learn about Louisiana's criminal statute of limitation laws and related matters in the sections below.

Code Section Crim. Proc. Art. 571 et seq., 572, 575
Felonies Crimes with punishment of death or life imprisonment: none; felony punishable by hard labor: 6 yrs.; felony not necessarily punishable by hard labor: 4 yrs.; forcible rape, none; forcible rape, sexual battery (aggravated), carnal knowledge, indecent behavior or molestation of juvenile, crime against nature involving victim under 17 yrs. of age: 10 yrs. beginning when victim turns 18 yrs. old
Misdemeanors Punishment of fine or forfeiture: 6 mos.; fine and/or prison: 2 yrs.
Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run Avoiding detection, fleeing, outside state, absent residence in state; lacks mental capacity to proceed at trial


Criminal statutes of limitations ensure that criminal trials are based on the best available evidence. They also promote fairness in how long the government can wait to pursue criminal charges. In most instances, it's best to have criminal trials as soon after an incident as possible.

Longer or indefinite statutes of limitations seek to balance the interest in fair trials with the seriousness of the offense. The idea here is that criminals should not be able to avoid charges for serious crimes by waiting out the authorities.

Worth noting is that most statutes of limitations will run only while the alleged criminal remains visible and in the state where the crime occurred. If the suspect is out of the state, on the lam, or otherwise living in hiding, this will pause, or “toll,” the statutory clock. The clock will resume running if and when the criminal reenters the state.

Louisiana Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources

Criminal charges are a very serious matter, and criminal statutes can vary depending the crime and on the jurisdiction. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, you can contact a Louisiana criminal defense attorney in your area to schedule a consultation. You can also visit FindLaw’s Criminal Law Basics for more introductory information on this topic.

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