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.
In Nevada, for most crimes, there's a three-year time limit for the filing of charges. However, for theft, robbery, arson, burglary, forgery and sexual assault there is a four year time limit. Murder, meanwhile, has no statute of limitations.
Criminal Statutes of Limitation in Nevada
Learn about Nevada's criminal statute of limitation laws and related matters in the sections below.
|Code Section||171.080 et seq.|
|Felonies||Murder: none; theft, robbery, arson, burglary, forgery, sexual assault: 4 yrs.; others: 3 yrs.; sexual abuse of a child: by time victim reaches 21 yrs. old or 28 yrs. old if "does not discover or reasonably should not have discovered" he was a victim|
|Misdemeanors||Gross misdemeanor: 2 yrs.; others: 1 yr.|
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run||Prosecution commences when indictment is presented|
So where exactly was the idea of a criminal statute of limitations born? Mostly it exists to ensure criminal trials are based on evidence that has not deteriorated over time. The same applies to possible subsequent convictions, too. Testimonial evidence (officer statements, eyewitness accounts, etc.) and physical evidence (fingerprints, DNA, etc.) can fade or be lost over time. That's why it's generally 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 thinking here is that criminals should not be able to avoid the consequences for serious crimes just by waiting out the authorities.
Most statutes of limitations 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 Nevada 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 Nevada 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.