When The Statute of Limitations Expires: How You Can Avoid Going to Court

A statute of limitations has been established for certain crimes by the state of Texas. Statutes of limitations prevent prosecution of a crime after a prescribed amount of time has elapsed. The prosecution must file a criminal charge before a given statute of limitations has expired. Although the maximum time for prosecuting a crime typically begins when the crime is perpetrated, the beginning point can also be the time when the crime should have been uncovered.

A criminal suspect may feel certain that the threat of prosecution has passed, but this can be a dangerous assumption to make. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney should be consulted to completely understand the application of a statute of limitations law. Some crimes do not have a statute of limitations. Other factors may also influence the official measurement of time.

Aside from the time when the statute of limitations begins to run, the elapsed time may also be subject to a legal phenomenon known as tolling. When the statute of limitations is tolled, the legal clock stops running. Tolling often occurs when a suspect is out of the state or a suspect’s identity is still unknown. In the event that a suspect is suspected of committing multiple crimes, the statute of limitations may apply to certain crimes but not others. The statute of limitations is usually shorter for misdemeanor crimes than felony crimes.

Texas Statutes of Limitations

The statute of limitations for a particular crime will vary from state to state. Several states do not have any statute of limitation laws, including Kentucky and Wyoming. Other states have no statutes of limitations for certain crimes. The state of California, for instance, has not enacted a statute of limitations for the crime of embezzling public funds. A prosecutor can file criminal charges at any time after the crime was committed. Section 12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure establishes the following statute of limitations criteria:

No statute of limitations

10-year statute of limitations

Seven-year statute of limitations

Five-year statute of limitations

There are other crimes that have a statute of limitations of two or three years. There are also circumstances under which a Texas statute of limitations law may be tolled, such as absence from the state or a pending criminal indictment. A suspect is advised to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer before assuming that they will not have to appear in court. Statute of limitations laws are subject to change. The exact measurement of time since the alleged crime was committed may also be subject to tolling or other legal provisions.

To find out if the statute of limitations has expired for your crime, set up an appointment with The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp at 713-868-6100.