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 (5) 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.
|Code Section||45-1-205; 45-1-206|
|Felonies||Deliberate, mitigated, or negligent homicide: none; others: five (5) yrs.; sexual assault, sexual intercourse without consent, indecent exposure, deviate sexual conduct, incest, sexual or ritual abuse of child if victim is under 18 yrs. old at time of offense: within ten of victim turning 18 yrs. old; theft involving breach of fiduciary obligation: within one (1) yr. of discovery or if involving a minor, within one (1) yr. of termination of minority; unlawful use of computer: within one (1) yr. of discovery of offense.|
|Misdemeanors||One (1) yr.; misdemeanor of fish, wildlife, or outfitter activity laws: within three (3) yrs. after offense committed.|
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run||When offender is not usually and publicly resident of state, or beyond jurisdiction of state; prosecution pending for same conduct.|
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.
Research the Law:
Montana Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
Contact a qualified attorney.