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District of Columbia Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

Generally speaking, there's a time limit on when someone can be charged with a crime. There are multiple good reasons for this policy - for both the prosecutor and the defendant. State laws place limits on how much time prosecutors have to file criminal charges, called the criminal statute of limitations. Most states have different limits for different kinds of crimes. Nevada follows this same model.

Criminal statutes of limitations apply to different crimes on the basis of their general classification as either felonies or misdemeanors. The time limit starts to run on the date the offense was committed, not from the time the crime was discovered or the accused was identified.

What If an Accused Person is Out of the State?

The running of the statute may be suspended for any period the accused is absent from the state or, in certain states, while any other indictment for the same crime is pending. This suspension occurs so that the state will be able to obtain a new indictment in the event the first one is declared invalid.

Statutes of limitations often differ by the severity of the crime, with homicide and other serious crimes having no time limit at all.

What if the Prosecutor Doesn't File Charges In Time?

Criminal suspects may not be charged with a crime if the statute of limitations has expired, provided he or she was living openly (not evading law enforcement) throughout the statutory period. Statutes of limitation are meant to help preserve the integrity of evidence (including witness testimony) and maintain efficiency in the criminal justice system.

Criminal Statute of Limitations in the District of Columbia

In D.C, all misdemeanors carry a 3-year statute of limitations. Most felonies also have a 3-year statute of limitations. Several types of murder do not have any statute of limitations.

Additional details are listed below. If you have a civil law matter, see Time Limits to Bring a Case: The Statute of Limitations to learn about similar time limits used in civil law.

Code Section 23-113
  • First or second degree murder: none;
  • First degree sexual abuse; second degree sexual abuse; first degree child sexual abuse; and second degree child sexual abuse: 15 yrs;
  • Third degree sexual abuse; fourth degree sexual abuse; enticing a child for the purpose of committing felony sexual abuse; first degree sexual abuse of a ward; second degree sexual abuse of a ward; first degree sexual abuse of a patient or client; second degree sexual abuse of a patient or client; using a minor in a sexual performance or promoting a sexual performance by a minor; incest; and trafficking in labor or commercial sex and sex trafficking of children: 10 years;
  • Other felonies in 1st and 2nd degree: six (6) yrs.;
  • All other crimes: three (3) yrs.;
  • Except if offense included official misconduct, fraud or breach of fiduciary trust: max. nine (9) yrs. felony, six (6) yrs. misdemeanor
Misdemeanors Three (3) yrs.
Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run Fleeing or action commenced

Note: State criminal statute of limitation laws are constantly changing -- contact a District of Columbia criminal attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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District of Columbia Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources

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