Wisconsin Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws
State criminal statute of limitations laws limit how long after a crime has been committed prosecutors have to file criminal charges. Wisconsin, like most states, has different limits depending on the type of crime involved. For example, misdemeanor charges have a three-year time limit for filing, while most felony charges have a six-year statute of limitations. There is no statutory limit on murder charges.
Criminal Statutes of Limitation in Wisconsin
Wisconsin's criminal statute of limitation laws and related matters are highlighted in the chart below.
|Topic||Criminal Statute of Limitations|
|Definition||The criminal statute of limitations is a time limit the state has for prosecuting a crime. Under Wisconsin law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you face, ranging from 3 years to no limit.|
|Code Section||Wis. Stat. Ann. Section 939.74|
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim||
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run||When the perpetrator is not publicly a resident within Wisconsin or when a prosecution for the alleged crime is pending.|
|Other||Adultery: 3 years|
What is the Purpose of a Time Limit?
Criminal statutes of limitation are designed to ensure that criminal trials are based on the best available evidence. Physical evidence (like fingerprints and DNA) and testimonial evidence (like officer statements and eyewitness accounts) can deteriorate or be lost entirely over time. The length of particular statutes of limitation seeks to balance the interest in prosecuting serious offenses with the interest in conducting fair and accurate criminal trials.
How is the Statute of Limitations Tolled?
Time limits for filing criminal charges run only when the suspect is visible and within the state where the crime was committed.
Tolling a statue of the limitations suspends the running of the time limit. If the suspect is out of state or otherwise in hiding, the statutory clock will pause and will resume running only when and if the criminal reenters the state. This prevents criminals from avoiding the consequences for serious crimes by simply running, hiding, and waiting out the authorities.
Related Resources for Wisconsin Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws:
Criminal statutes can vary depending on the crime and the jurisdiction, and criminal charges are a very serious matter. If you would like legal assistance with a criminal matter, you can contact a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney in your area. You can also visit FindLaw's Criminal Law Basics for more articles and resources.
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