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Montana Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

All states have time limits for prosecutors to bring a criminal case against a suspect, commonly referred to as the criminal "statute of limitations." The clock typically begins running at the point the crime is committed, but this time limit is put on hold (the clock is stopped) when suspects are being evasive (fugitives, etc.). 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 Statute of Limitations Expires?

Generally, 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 Montana

In Montana, all misdemeanors carry a one-year statute of limitations. Felonies are more varied, with a 10-year time limit for rape or 10 years after victim reaches 18 years of age. Most other felonies carry a five-year time limit.

Additional details are listed below. See Time Limits to Bring a Case: The Statute of Limitations to learn about similar time limits used in civil law.

State Montana.
Topic Montana Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws
Definition The criminal statute of limitations is a time limit the state has for prosecuting a crime. Under Montana law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you face, ranging from one year to no limit.
Code Section MCA Sec. 45-1-205Sec. 45-1-206
Felonies
  • Deliberate, mitigated, or negligent homicide: No time limit.
  • Sexual assault: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. If victim was older than 18 years old, then 10 years time limit.
  • Sexual intercourse without consent: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. If victim was older than 18 years old, then 10 years time limit.
  • Indecent exposure: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. If victim was older than 18 years old, then 10 years time limit.
  • Incest: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. If victim was older than 18 years old, then 10 years time limit.
  • Sexual or ritual abuse of child if victim is under 18 yrs. old at time of offense: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. If victim was older than 18 years old, then 10 years time limit.
  • Aggravated sexual intercourse without consent: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense.
  • Promoting prostitution: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense.
  • Sexual servitude: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense.
  • Theft: 5 years time limit after date of theft, whether or not offender is in possession. If offender is still in possession after 5 years time limit ends, prosecution can commence at any time.
  • Reckless driving resulting in death: 3 years time limit.
  • Careless driving resulting in death: 3 years time limit.
  • Theft involving breach of fiduciary duty: Time limit of 1 year after discovery of breach, or if victim was a minor or incompetent, then during the time of minority or incompetency or 1 year after termination of minority or incompetency.
  • Unlawful use of a computer: Within 1 year of discovery of offense.
  • Any other felony: 5 years time limit.
Misdemeanors
  • Misdemeanor: 1 year time limit.
  • Misdemeanor of fish, wildlife or outfitter activity laws: 3 year time limit after offense committed.
Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
  • Sexual assault: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. If victim was older than 18 years old, then 10 years time limit.
  • Sexual intercourse without consent: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. If victim was older than 18 years old, then 10 years time limit.
  • Indecent exposure: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. If victim was older than 18 years old, then 10 years time limit.
  • Incest: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. If victim was older than 18 years old, then 10 years time limit.
  • Sexual or ritual abuse of child if victim is under 18 yrs. old at time of offense: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. If victim was older than 18 years old, then 10 years time limit.
  • Aggravated sexual intercourse without consent: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense.
  • Promoting prostitution: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense.
  • Sexual servitude: No time limit if victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense.
Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
  • When offender is not usually and publicly resident of Montana or beyond jurisdiction of state
  • When there is prosecution pending for same conduct.
  • When offender is a public officer and the offense charged is theft of public funds while in public office.
Other  

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Montana drug crime lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Montana Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources

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