The statute of limitations sets specific time limits for the government to bring criminal charges against a suspect. Depending on the type of offense, the Michigan statute of limitations may be six, 10, 15, or 25 years. Some crimes, like murder, have no statute of limitations.
If you have been charged with a crime and believe too much time has passed to be charged, it is up to you and your lawyer to raise the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense.
A criminal statute of limitations sets the time limit placed on a prosecutor to file criminal charges. If a prosecutor files criminal charges after this time limit has passed, the defendant can seek to have the charges dismissed on that basis.
These limits are imposed so that evidence presented at trial is fresh. This includes physical evidence as well as a witness’s memory and testimony.
In Michigan, the statute of limitations for most misdemeanors is six years, and 10 years for most felonies. Violent crimes like murder and terrorist activities have no statute of limitations. This means that there is no time limit for the government to charge someone with these crimes.
Here is a brief summary of different charges and the time limit on charges that applies to each crime.
The federal statute of limitations for most crimes in five years.
There is no federal statute of limitations for:
The time limit for when charges can be filed generally starts to run as soon as the crime occurs. But in circumstances where it is difficult to discover the crime or where the victim might be afraid to report it, the clock might start later or the limitations period may be extended.
For example, cases involving rape or Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) can be brought at any time, if DNA evidence was collected during the investigation. Once the suspect is identified, the clock starts to run.
In cases where the suspect cannot be identified, the clock does not start to run until the suspect has been identified, as long as the crime was reported within one year after it occurred. Some cases, such as kidnapping, extortion, assault with intent to commit murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, and first-degree home invasion have no statute of limitations.
Additionally, the statute of limitations does not run while the defendant is outside of the state of Michigan. This is called tolling the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations does not prevent a prosecutor from filing criminal charges against someone. Instead, the statute of limitations must be raised as an affirmative defense. This means that you can still be charged with a crime and that it is up to you and your lawyer to determine whether the statute of limitations expired and to raise it as a defense. If you do not raise the statute of limitations as a defense, the prosecutor can and will move forward with the charges.
If you have been charged with a crime in Michigan, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. A criminal defense attorney can explain the statute of limitations that applies to the crime you have been charged with, challenge the allegations against you, and fight for an acquittal.
© 2021 Elmen Legal, PLLC — Ann Arbor, Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney