Statute of Limitations: Background
There are time limits for prosecutors to file criminal charges, called the statute of limitations (civil cases also have time limits for filing). The criminal statute of limitations are rooted in a sense of fairness when dealing with law enforcement. It is intended to preserve the integrity of evidence, including witness testimony, and to ensure that criminal cases are resolved in a timely manner.
Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Arizona
In Arizona, there is no statute of limitations for murder or violent sexual assault -- meaning, someone may be prosecuted for these types of offenses regardless of whether the crime was committed one year ago or forty years ago. Other felonies generally carry a seven-year statute of limitations.
When it comes to misdemeanors in the Grand Canyon State, the state has one year to file charges or six months for petty offenses. In Arizona (as well as neighboring California), crimes involving public money or public records have no statutes of limitation. For comparison's sake, Colorado's treason statute also has no statute of limitations.
Remember, also that statute of limitations are divided into federal and state categories. You can be charged for federal crimes, which would trigger federal statute of limitations.
Federal statutes are only applicable to federal crimes. Typically, those are crimes which take place on federal property or otherwise fall under federal jurisdiction. Mail fraud and burglarizing or vandalizing a federally owned property are examples of what can be considered a federal crime.
Learn more about Arizona's criminal statute of limitations in the following table. See Time Limits for Charges: State Criminal Statutes of Limitations for a general overview.
|Felonies||Homicide, violent sexual assault, misuse of public money, falsifying public records: none; other felonies: 7 yrs.|
|Misdemeanors||1 yr.; petty offenses: 6 mos.|
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run||Absent from state or no reasonably ascertainable residence in state; identity not known|
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an Arizona criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
For more general information, feel free to take a look at FindLaw’s section on criminal law. To learn more about Arizona’s statute of limitations laws, the links below will connect you with additional resources. Finally, if you have specific questions regarding a criminal matter, consider retaining a criminal lawyer.
Arizona Criminal Laws Related Resources:
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