Criminal time limitations are a law that forbids prosecutors from charging someone with a crime committed more than a specific number of years ago. This law exists to ensure that convictions are solely based on physical and eyewitness accounts that have not deteriorated with time. Once a time period runs out, the crime can no longer be prosecuted. However, the criminal time limitations vary between states.
Criminal Time Limitations in Arizona
There are three general categories of criminal time limitations in Arizona: Misdemeanor, Felony, Serious or Violent Crimes. This means that prosecutors only have a certain amount of time to bring forth criminal charges for those three types of crimes.
Criminal time limitations for the three categories:
Misdemeanors: In most cases, the state only has one year to bring misdemeanor charges against a person in Arizona
Felonies: Prosecutors only have seven years to file felony charges against a person in Arizona.
Serious or violent crimes: Both serious and violent crimes have no criminal time limitations for charges against a suspect. This means that homicide and violent sexual assault cases can always be charged, even if they result in felony charges.
Arizona Revised Statutes § 13- 107
A prosecution for any homicide, any offense that is listed in chapter 14 or 35.1 of this title and that is a class 2 felony, any violent sexual assault pursuant to section 13-1423, any violation of section 13-2308.01, any misuse of public monies or a felony involving falsification of public records or any attempt to commit an offense listed in this subsection may be commenced at any time.
Except as otherwise provided in this section, prosecutions for other offenses must be commenced within the following periods after actual discovery by the state or the political subdivision having jurisdiction of the offense or discovery by the state or the political subdivision that should have occurred with the exercise of reasonable diligence, whichever first occurs:
1. For a class 2 through a class 6 felony, seven years.
2. For a misdemeanor, one year.
3. For a petty offense, six months.”
State Criminal Statutes of Limitations
It is important to note that the criminal time limitations or statute of limitations only apply if the criminal suspect remains in the state. If the individual leaves the state or country and goes into hiding, the criminal time limitations clock will pause or “toll” and will resume when and if the suspect reenters the state. This is to prevent criminals from hiding or fleeing to avoid the consequences of their crimes.
What If I Was Arrested After the Time Limitation Expired?
If you face criminal charges for a crime that was committed past the criminal time limitations, you may have a compelling defense that could lead to the dismissal of your criminal charges. If you did not leave the state and are being accused of a crime committed over a year ago (for misdemeanor charges) or over seven years ago (for felonies that are not serious or violent crimes), the prosecutor may have to drop their charges.
Arizona Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you are facing criminal charges, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Even if you may have a compelling defense, it is vital to have an experienced attorney on your side to help you understand and protect your rights. Our team at Suzuki Law Offices, L.L.C. has helped clients across Arizona get their charges reduced and even dismissed. Get in touch with our team today to learn how we can help you!
Contact us today at (602) 842-6762 to schedule a consultation!