Maine Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

Every state has laws imposing time limits in which to bring a case, called the “statute of limitations,” in both civil and criminal cases. Criminal statutes of limitations limit when a formal criminal charge can be brought against a defendant.

The goal of these time limits is to ensure that evidence is fresh and that individuals don’t have to fear prosecution for minor crimes, like shoplifting, indefinitely. Typically, the statute of limitations vary by the type of crime. There are also no time limits in most states for serious crimes like murder, including in Maine.

Maine Criminal Statute of Limitations Statute

The following table briefly explains the criminal statute of limitations in Maine.

Code Section Maine Code Revised Title 17-A: Maine Criminal Code, Section 8:  Statute of Limitations
Felonies There is no limitation to the time you can prosecute some serious crimes, including:
  • Murder
  • 1st or 2nd degree criminal homicide
  • Incest, rape, or gross sexual assault if victim is under 16 years old

Other unlawful sexual contact or gross sexual assault must be started within 8 years of when it occurred.

Other felonies, called Class A, B, or C crimes in Maine, can be charged within 6 years of the crime.

Misdemeanors Generally, Class D or E crimes (misdemeanors) must be prosecuted within 3 years of the crime.

However, breaches of fiduciary obligations must be charged within 1 year of discovering the crime up to a maximum of 5 years. Official misconduct by a public servant must be prosecuted within 2 years, with a maximum extension to 5 years after the incident.
When Does a Prosecution Start? A prosecution has commenced whenever a complaint has been filed, an indictment is returned by the grand jury, or an information is filed after a waiver of indictment.
Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run There are several reasons the time limit may be extended or the clock doesn’t run, including:
  • The defendant is absent from the state, but only for a maximum of 5 years
  • If the complaint or indictment is dismissed due to an error or defect, then a new prosecution on the same crime can be brought within 6 months
  • Prosecution is pending against the same defendant for the same crime based on the same conduct
  • When the defendant has a pending juvenile crime in juvenile court based on the same conduct

Note: State laws change all the time. Please contact a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these state criminal laws.

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