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North Carolina Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

State laws place limits on how much time prosecutors have to file criminal charges against suspects. These time limits are called the criminal statute of limitations. Most states have different limits for different kinds of crimes, but North Carolina is unique in this regard. North Carolina's criminal statute of limitations is two years for most misdemeanors, and there is no statute of limitations for felonies or crimes classified as "malicious" misdemeanors.

Learn about North Carolina's criminal statute of limitations in the table below. Related resources and information can be accessed using links the following this article or by checking out FindLaw’s Criminal Law Basics.

North Carolina General Statutes Code Section

15-1: Statute of Limitations for Misdemeanors

Felonies

There is no statute of limitations for felony offenses. North Carolina has a Structured Sentencing Act that classifies felonies based on the offense. Examples of felonies include the following:

  • Class A: Murder and use of a weapon of mass destruction that injures others;
  • Class B: Rape and other sexual offenses and other offenses related to weapons of mass destruction;
  • Class C: Sentencing of habitual offenders, malicious maiming, kidnapping, assault with deadly weapon with the intent to kill and causing serious injury, and embezzlement;
  • Class D: Voluntary manslaughter, burglary, arson, robbery with a firearm;
  • Class E: Serious child abuse, assault with a firearm on a law enforcement, and malicious use of an explosive device;
  • Class F: Perjury, bribery, and elder abuse;
  • Class G: Identity thefts, computer crimes, and possession of a firearm by a felon;
  • Class H: Possession of stolen goods, larceny, forgery, and making false reports;
  • Class I: Breaking and Entering and possession of counterfeit tools.

Misdemeanors

There is no statute of limitations for malicious misdemeanors. Generally, malicious means with willful malice or bad motive. Prosecution for all other misdemeanors must be brought within two years. Misdemeanors are also classified based on the length of permissible punishment (Class 1A, Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3, with Class 1A having the longest potential sentences).

If you have been accused of a crime, you may want to contact a North Carolina criminal defense attorney for legal advice and assistance with your case. Defendants may also seek assistance from the Office of Indigent Defense services if they cannot afford to hire a private attorney.

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