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Texas Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

A statute of limitations is a restriction on how long a person or entity may wait before taking legal action on a matter. There are statutes of limitations in both civil and criminal cases. The criminal statute of limitations establishes time limits for how soon after an incident (often the date of an arrest) a prosecutor must file formal charges against a suspect.These time limits serve a couple of purposes. First, it ensures that criminal charges aren't hanging over someone's head indefinitely and that cases are handled with more efficiency and urgency. But these limits also help preserve the integrity of evidence, including eyewitness testimony that may become blurred after the passage of time. In Texas as in other states, serious felonies such as murder and certain sexual assaults are not bound by any statute of limitations.

A summary of the Texas criminal statute of limitations is in the table below. See the links following this article for additional resources. For more information you can also heck out these articles: Details on State Criminal Statute of Limitations and Criminal Law Basics.

Code Section

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 12.01, et seq.

Felonies (Section 12.01)

Time limits for felonies include the following:

  • None: Murder, manslaughter, certain sexual assaults (including sexual abuse of a child), hit and run resulting in death, and certain human trafficking offenses;
  • Ten years: Thefts involving fiduciaries or officials, forgery, injury to an elderly or disabled person, arson, and compelling prostitution;
  • Seven years: Misapplication of fiduciary property or property of a financial institution, money laundering, certain tax crimes, fraud, identity theft, and bigamy.
  • Five years: Other theft, burglary, and robbery offenses, insurance fraud, and abandoning or endangering a child.
  • Three years: All other felonies not specifically referenced in the code section.

For many of the crimes listed above, if the victim is under the age of seventeen when the crime is committed, the statute of limitations is typically extended.

Misdemeanors

The statute of limitations is two years from the date the crime was committed.

Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run

The statute of limitations does not run when the accused is not in the state. It also does not while a criminal indictment, information, or complaint is pending.

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

Research the Law

Texas Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources

Get a Free Review of Your Texas Criminal Charges

Perhaps you haven't been charged with a crime but you're a suspect, and hope the statute of limitations will run out before you're arrested. In any event, criminal charges often result in prison terms or a period of probation and are best defended by an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you have questions about a criminal charge, or potential criminal charge, you might want to consider getting a free legal evaluation from a Texas criminal defense attorney.

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