Statute of Limitations in Michigan Criminal Cases

statute of limitations

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.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

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.

The Statute of Limitations for Specific Crimes

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.

Murder, Attempted Murder, and Manslaughter

  • Murder: No time limit
  • Attempted Murder: 10 years
  • Manslaughter: 10 years

Sex Crimes and Rape

  • First-degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC): No time limit
  • Second and Third-degree CSC, Victim is Under 18: 15 years or victim’s 28th birthday (whichever is later)
  • Second and Third-degree CSC, Victim is 18 or Older: 10 years or victim’s 21st birthday (whichever is later)
  • Fourth-degree CSC: 10 years or victim’s 21st birthday (whichever is later)
  • Child Sex Trafficking: 25 years

Theft and Fraud Offenses

  • Armed Robbery: 10 years
  • First-degree home invasion: 10 years
  • Identity Theft: six years after suspect was identified

Domestic Violence

Federal Crimes

The federal statute of limitations for most crimes in five years.

There is no federal statute of limitations for:

  • Crimes punishable by death
  • Terrorism resulting in death or serious bodily injury
  • Sex crimes with a minor

Extending the Time Limit for Charges

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.

Using Time Limits as a Defense

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.

Elmen Legal: Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney Serving Ann Arbor, Michigan

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. The criminal statutes of limitations in Michigan are complex and nuanced. 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.

Learn more about criminal defense attorney Robert Elmen and the cases he handles, then contact Elmen Legal today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case.