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New Mexico Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

Any time a crime occurs, it's up to prosecutors to file criminal charges and begin the legal process. State criminal statute of limitations laws put a time limit on how long prosecutors have after the crime occurs to file charges. These time limits will generally vary depending on the type of crime involved: misdemeanor charges normally have shorter time limits than felony charges. Here is a basic overview of criminal statutes laws in New Mexico.

Criminal Statutes of Limitations in New Mexico

New Mexico’s criminal statute of limitations laws are highlighted below.

Code Section

New Mexico Statutes 30-1-8: Time Limit for Commencing Prosecution


Capital or 1st degree felony: none;

2nd degree: 6 yrs.;

3rd and 4th degree: 5 yrs.;

Others: 3 yrs.;

New Mexico Statutes 30-1-9.1: Offenses Against Children

Child abuse, criminal sexual penetration, or criminal sexual contact of minor: until victim turns 18 yrs. old or the offense is reported, whichever occurs first


Misdemeanors: 2 yrs.;

Petty misdemeanors: 1 yr.

Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run

New Mexico Statutes 30-1-9: Tolling of Time Limitation

Fleeing justice or not usually or publicly resident of state;

Enumerated procedural defects;

When DNA evidence is available and suspect has not been identified for criminal sexual penetration, time period won't run until a DNA profile is matched with a suspect

How Criminal Statutes of Limitations Work

Criminal statutes of limitations are designed to ensure criminal trials that are fair and based on the best possible evidence. Evidence of a crime, whether physical evidence like fingerprints or DNA or testimonial evidence like officer statements or eyewitness accounts, can fade over time or become useless or lost entirely. Particular statutes of limitation vary in length in an attempt to balance the interest in conducting accurate criminal trials with the interest in prosecuting the most serious offenses, while also not having criminal charges hanging over a person’s head indefinitely.

The prosecutorial “clock” on most statutes of limitation will only run while the alleged criminal remains in the state where the crime occurred -- if the suspect is out of state or otherwise on the run, the statutory clock will pause, and then resume running when and if the criminal reenters the state. The idea is to prevent criminals from avoiding the consequences for serious crimes by simply running, hiding, and waiting out the authorities. New Mexico also pauses the statute if there is DNA evidence in a crime until there has been a positive match with a suspect.

More Resources for New Mexico Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

Statutes of limitations can be confusing. For additional articles and resources on this topic, you can visit FindLaw’s section on Criminal Law Basics. If you would like legal assistance with a criminal matter, you can consult with a New Mexico criminal defense attorney.

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