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. The District of Columbia 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 of time 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
Additional details are listed below. If you have a civil law matter, see Time Limits to Bring a Civil Case: The Statute of Limitations to learn about similar time limits used in civil law.
|State||District of Columbia|
|Topic||Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws|
|Definition||The criminal statute of limitations is a time limit the state has for prosecuting a crime. Under the District of Columbia law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you face, ranging from three years to no time limit.|
|Misdemeanors||3-year time limit|
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim||
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run||
Period of limitation does not run
|Other||Prosecution for a felony or a misdemeanor offense completed based on official conduct:
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.
Research the Law:
- District of Columbia Code
- Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.
District of Columbia Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
- Criminal Law Basics
- District of Columbia Criminal Laws
- Classification of Crimes
- Criminal Charges
- Find a Criminal Lawyer
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