New York Criminal Statute of Limitations

by ECL Writer
New York Criminal Statute of Limitations

The individual charged may have the case dropped if the state attempts to prosecute them after the necessary time period has elapsed. The government must file criminal charges within a certain amount of time, according to statutes of limitations. The accused may request the case be dropped if the prosecution brings charges after the necessary amount of time has passed. Violent crimes often have lengthier statutes of limitations in New York and most other states, while some crimes (like murder) have no statute of limitations, meaning a criminal prosecution can be filed at any time. Statutes of limitations may occasionally be “tolled” (suspended), giving the government more time to file a claim. In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will outline all you need to know about the New York criminal statute of Limitations.

Civil vs. Criminal Statutes Of Limitations

Statutes of Limitations are time limits for filing a legal claim. They differ between civil and criminal cases:

Civil Statutes of Limitations: In civil cases, the statute of limitations sets a time limit for filing a lawsuit. The time limit varies depending on the type of claim and the jurisdiction. For example, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in New York is typically 3 years.

Criminal Statutes of Limitations: In criminal cases, the statute of limitations sets a time limit for prosecuting a person for a crime. The time limit also varies depending on the type of crime and jurisdiction. For example, the statute of limitations for most felonies in New York is 5 years, but there is no statute of limitations for certain serious crimes, such as murder.

It’s important to note that the statute of limitations is a defense that can be raised by the defendant, so it is crucial to bring a claim or file charges within the time specified by law, or risk losing the right to do so.

New York Criminal Statute of Limitations

New York criminal statute of limitations establishes deadlines for when accusations of crimes may be brought. It “sets boundaries” on how long a prosecutor may hold off on bringing formal charges, as the word indicates. There is no time limit for filing charges for crimes like murder or those carrying a life sentence, as there is in the majority of other states. While most misdemeanors (but not all) have a two-year statute of limitations, lesser crimes have a five-year statute of limitations.

The following chart provides the basics of New York criminal statute of limitations law and a more in-depth look at the subject follows.

StateNew York
TopicCriminal Statute of Limitations
DefinitionThe criminal statute of limitations is a time limit the state has for prosecuting a crime. Under New York law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you face, ranging from one year to no time limit.
Code SectionsNew York Criminal Procedure Law Sec. 30.10, et. seq.
FeloniesVaries based on crime: Class A felonies: No time limit. Rape in the first degree: No time limit.Rape in the second degree: 20 years after the rape or within 10 years from when the rape is first reported to law enforcement, whichever occurs earlier.Larceny by a person in violation of fiduciary duty: 1 year after the acting crime is discovered or should have been discovered.Any offense involving misconduct in public office by a public servant: Duration of the public servant in public office, or 5 years after termination of public office.Any other felonies: 5 years.
MisdemeanorsMisdemeanors: 2 years.Petty offense: 1 year.
Crimes in Which a Child Is a VictimSexual conduct against a child in the first degree: No time limit.Sexual conduct against a child in the second degree: 5 years.
Acts During Which Statute Does Not RunWhen the defendant is continuously outside of the state or the defendant’s location is continuously unknown and cannot be determined. However, the period of limitation can never be extended by more than five years.
OtherN/A
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Time Clock: Starting And Stopping

The statute of limitations often begins when the offense is committed. However, the legislation may postpone the start of the timer in situations when it is impossible to find the offense or a victim may be very afraid to report it. For instance, under New York law, many sexual offenses against children don’t become crimes until the victim reaches the age of 23, or until the crime is reported to the police, whichever comes first. Additionally, the statute gives the prosecutor more time to file charges if a suspect tries to “evade” (avoid) being arrested for a crime. The statute of limitations is tolled in New York for up to five years while a defendant is constantly out of the country or otherwise untraceable.

Can Statute Of Limitations Be Waived In New York?

In New York, the statute of limitations can be waived in certain circumstances. A waiver of the statute of limitations means that a party voluntarily gives up their right to raise the statute of limitations as a defense.

In civil cases, a waiver of the statute of limitations can be express or implied. An express waiver occurs when the parties agree in writing to extend the time limit for bringing a claim. An implied waiver occurs when a party’s conduct leads to the belief that they have given up their right to assert the statute of limitations as a defense.

In criminal cases, a waiver of the statute of limitations cannot be expressed, as the prosecution must bring charges within the time limit set by law. However, the statute of limitations may be tolled, or temporarily suspended, in certain circumstances, such as when the defendant is out of state or hiding from law enforcement.

It’s important to note that waiver of the statute of limitations is not automatic and must be affirmatively established, either through a written agreement or evidence of the parties conduct.

Purposes For Criminal Statutes Of Limitations

The purpose of criminal statutes of limitations is to ensure that criminal prosecutions are brought in a timely manner while balancing the interests of the accused and the state. Some of the main purposes of criminal statutes of limitations include:

  • Protecting the rights of the accused: As time passes, evidence may be lost, witnesses may disappear, and memories may fade, making it more difficult to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal statutes of limitations ensure that the accused’s right to a fair trial is protected.
  • Preventing abuse of the criminal justice system: The statute of limitations serves as a check on the power of the state to bring criminal charges and ensures that the state does not wait an unreasonable amount of time to prosecute.
  • Promoting finality: Criminal statutes of limitations allow for closure and finality in criminal cases, allowing both the accused and the victim to move on with their lives.
  • Allocating resources: By setting a time limit for prosecuting crimes, the statute of limitations helps allocate resources within the criminal justice system, allowing the state to focus on more pressing cases.

It’s important to note that while the purpose of criminal statutes of limitations is to balance the interests of the accused and the state, there are exceptions for certain serious crimes, such as murder, where there is no statute of limitations.

Statute Of Limitations For Heinous Crimes

There is no statute of limitations for some offenses that the New York state legislature has deemed to be extremely serious. This means that regardless of how much time has gone by since the alleged crime was committed, the prosecution can still charge someone with one of these offenses. Murder, any offense that carries a life sentence in prison, and first-degree rape are among the crimes that have no statute of limitations.

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