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, and Delaware is no different. There is a three-year time limit for the filing of misdemeanor Class A charges, for instance, but a two-year limit for all other misdemeanors. For robbery charges there is a five-year limit, unless there is forensic DNA evidence at play, in that case there is a 10 year statute of limitations.
Criminal Statutes of Limitation in Delaware
Learn about Delaware's criminal statute of limitations laws and related matters in the sections below.
|Code Section||Tit. 11 §205(a), (b), (h), (c), (e), (i)|
|Felonies||Murder, attempt to commit murder, Class A felony, attempt to commit Class A felony: none; others: 5 yrs. unless forensic DNA evidence, then 10 yrs.; any offense which includes forgery, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, theft or misapplication of property, misconduct in public office: additional 3 yrs.; any sexual offense where victim was under 18 yrs. of age|
|Misdemeanors||Class A: 3 yrs.; others: 2 yrs.|
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run||Fleeing or hiding from justice action commenced|
The basic concept behind criminal statutes of limitations is to ensure criminal trials (and possible subsequent convictions) are based on evidence that has not deteriorated over time. Testimonial evidence (officer statements, eyewitness accounts, etc.) and physical evidence (fingerprints, DNA, etc.) can fade or be lost over time. Thus it is better to have a criminal trial as soon after an incident as possible.
Longer or indefinite statutes of limitations attempt to balance the interest in fair trials with the seriousness of the offense. The thought is that criminals should not be able to avoid the consequences for serious crimes just by waiting out the authorities.
In Delaware, the statutes of limitation will run only while the alleged criminal remains visible and in the state where the crime occurred. If the suspect is out of the state or otherwise living in hiding, this will pause, or “toll,” the statutory clock. The clock resumes running, so to speak, if the criminal reenters the state.
Related Resources for Delaware Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws:
Any criminal charge is a serious matter, and criminal statutes can vary depending on your jurisdiction. If you have been charged with a crime, you can contact a Delaware criminal defense attorney in your area to discuss your case. You can also visit FindLaw’s Criminal Law Basics for additional details.
Contact a qualified attorney.