Posted in Criminal Defense on May 29, 2019
A criminal statute of limitations is a deadline by which prosecutors must file their charges against a suspect. States enforce statutes of limitations to keep the justice system fair for defendants. A deadline encourages swift filing on the prosecutor’s part, rather than giving them the option to wait until the potential destruction of evidence occurs. Different statutes of limitations apply to different types of crimes in California.
California Penal Code Section 799 details the statute of limitations on criminal charges. The law is complex and comprehensive. It begins by listing the crimes that do not have statutes of limitations. The prosecution can take as long as it wants to press charges for these crimes, and begin their cases at any time.
Prosecutors can charge suspects with these crimes no matter how long ago they allegedly occurred. The law never bars the state of California from bringing a legal charge against someone for these types of offenses. For other crimes, however, prosecutors must act within the specific timeframe – or forever lose the right to file.
Most states group crimes into a few broad categories. Then, they assign statutes of limitations to the categories rather than individual crimes. California legislation, however, has different time limits for many specified crimes.
Most statutes of limitations begin on the date the defendant allegedly committed the crime. It can be difficult to understand the exact statute of limitations for a specific criminal case without a criminal defense attorney’s help. California law also has a lot of exceptions to the general rule that could grant prosecutors more time to file their charges.
California’s numerous exceptions to the general statutes of limitations makes these deadlines even more difficult to comprehend as a defendant. Many different crimes and specific circumstances may qualify as exceptions to the rule.
These are not the only exceptions to California’s criminal statutes of limitations. Work with a local criminal defense lawyer to understand the deadline in your specific case. Proving that the prosecution filed the charge after the statute of limitations passed is a strong defense to criminal charges.