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South Carolina Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

Crime happens, and when it does, it is up to prosecutors to file criminal charges and begin the legal process. And for every crime, there's a criminal statute of limitations that puts a time limit on how long after the crime occurs prosecutors have to file charges. Generally, these limits vary depending on the type of crime involved, with misdemeanor charges having shorter time limits than felony charges. The Palmetto State, however, has no statute of limitations for any criminal prosecution, meaning prosecutors can bring charges whenever they can. Here are the basics of criminal statutes laws in South Carolina.

Criminal Statutes of Limitation in South Carolina

As noted above, South Carolina’s criminal code does not include statute of limitations laws.

Code Section

No statute of limitations for any criminal prosecution

Felonies

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Misdemeanors

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Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run

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How Criminal Statutes of Limitation Work

In other states, the goal of criminal statutes of limitation is to make sure that criminal trials are fair and based on the best possible evidence. Evidence of a crime, whether it’s physical evidence like fingerprints or DNA or it’s testimonial evidence like officer statements or eyewitness accounts, can fade over time or become unusable or lost entirely. The reason other states’ particular statutes of limitation vary in length is an attempt by the justice system to balance the interest in conducting accurate criminal trials with the interest in prosecuting the most serious offenses with, while also not hanging criminal charges over a person’s head indefinitely.

With this in mind, the prosecutorial “clock” on most statutes of limitation only run while the alleged criminal remains in the state where the crime occurred. If the suspect is out of state or otherwise on the lam, the statutory clock will pause, and will resume running when and if the criminal reenters the state. The idea is to prevent criminals from avoiding the consequences for serious crimes by simply running, hiding, and waiting out the authorities. Without a criminal statute of limitations, South Carolina authorities have no such concern.

Related Resources for South Carolina Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws:

Any criminal charge should be taken seriously. For more articles and resources on this topic, you can visit FindLaw’s Criminal Law Basics. If you have been charged with a crime or would like legal assistance with a criminal matter, you can contact a South Carolina criminal defense attorney.

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