Pennsylvania Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws
Pennsylvania's criminal code, like statute of limitations laws in other states, sets limits for how long a prosecutor may wait to file formal criminal charges. There is no time limit to bring charges for serious crimes such as murder, but lesser offenses have between a 2- and 12-year statute of limitations, depending on the specific offense. The deadline for filing misdemeanor charges, for instance, is 2 years. The statute of limitations for official misconduct (i.e. a politician or someone in public office) is between 5 and 8 years.
Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws in Pennsylvania
The following chart provides the basics of Pennsylvania criminal statute of limitations law.
|Topic||Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws|
|Definition||The criminal statute of limitations is a time limit the state has for prosecuting a crime. Under Pennsylvania law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you face, ranging from two years to no limit.|
|Code Sections||Tit. 42 Sections 5551; 5552; 5553 and 5554|
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim||
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run||
The general purpose of statutes of limitation is to ensure that criminal convictions occur only upon evidence that has not deteriorated with time. Both physical evidence (like fingerprints) and testimonial evidence (like memory and eyewitnesses) can deteriorate or be lost over time, therefore, time is of the essence in criminal cases.
Most statutes of limitation generally require the alleged criminal to remain in the state and visible, seeming to necessitate that the criminal remains "catchable" while the clock is running on the charge. If authorities fail to discover a criminal living in the open within a specified amount of time, it is thought that the state has determined the criminal should be able to live free from the possibility of prosecution after that point.
Generally, if the criminal is a fugitive, out of the state in which the crime occurred, or otherwise living in hiding, this tolls, or suspends, the statute. However, once the criminal reenters the state, the statute resumes running. Not all crimes are governed by statutes of limitation (murder, for example, has none), and the limitation periods generally vary depending on the seriousness of the crime.
You can visit FindLaw's Details on State Criminal Statute of Limitations section for more general information on this topic.
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State statutes of limitations for criminal cases can vary and change over time. Criminal charges are a serious matter, and you may find it helpful to consult an attorney. You can contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney in your area to discuss your case today. Start the process with a free case review.
Learn More About Pennsylvania Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws from a Lawyer
Each state has its statute of limitations law and it affects the charges in most crimes. The common denominator is that the timing can be critical regarding taking the next steps. If you're concerned about how the Pennsylvania criminal statute of limitations affects your case, you should speak with a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.
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