II. Statute of Limitations
One of the most common questions asked is whether you can still be prosecuted for an offense. Typically these calls occur when a person has done something that they feel could be a crime, and are anxiously calling around attorneys to find out whether they should be worried, or very worried.
The general rule is that most felonies must be prosecuted within three years, and most misdemeanors within one year. The Statute of Limitations starts from the date of the offense (until one year, or three years expires). When I say prosecuted, I mean that the District Attorney must file criminal charges against you within that time period or, in essence, they miss their chance. In some odd cases involving fraud and child molestation, the time starts to run when the district attorney knows, or should have known, that a criminal act was committed.
Generally though, charges do get filed against people after the Statute of Limitations have been filed. This could happen for any numerous reasons. However, when that does happen, your attorney will need to file a Demurrer motion before you can ever been arraigned on those charges. In other words, you never enter a plea, because what you are saying is that the prosecution is “barred” from prosecuting because the Statute of Limitations has passed for your case. This is done with a written motion filed and served on the prosecutor’s office.
One thing to note, is Statute of Limitations argument are stopped once the formal filing of Criminal charges have been filed against you (absent a Demurrer). That means, if the District Attorney’s Offices attempts to file charges against you, and you decide to either flee the Court’s jurisdiction, or ignore your notice to appear, you cannot then come back several years later and claim a Statute of Limitations argument. If that were possible, then everyone would disappear and raise the same argument. The law does not allow the accused to benefit from their own action in absence for a Statute of Limitations argument.
Offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and cases of embezzlement of public money do not have a Statute of Limitations. Examples of this would be kidnapping someone for ransom or murder charges. In cases where the maximum penalty is up to eight years in State Prison, the Statue of Limitations is six years. An example of this would be the crime of Rape.
Penal Code 803(f)(1) allows charges to filed against you within one year of the date of a report to a California law enforcement agency by a person of any time after they turn 18, alleging they were the victim of sexual molestation. If the alleged victim is till under 18 years of age, then under Penal Code 801.1, the District Attorney can file a case up to when that person turns 28 years old.
Statute of Limitations are found in the Penal Code 799-805. For more information on the defense of statute of limitations, call Ontario Criminal Defense attorney Adam Jackson today for a free consultation and free case evaluation. Call today at 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario, CA.