If you were arrested for committing a crime, it’s likely you were detained by a local or state police officer from the state where the crime was committed. For instance, if you committed a crime in New York, most likely a New York state agency will investigate and prosecute the case. If you commit a crime that violates federal law, you will likely be arrested by a federal officer such as an FBI agent. What’s more, you could even face charges at both the state and federal levels. Even if one dismissed your charges, the other could still move forward with prosecution.

Both state crimes and federal crimes have a statute of limitations that provides a time limit for charging someone with a crime after it was committed. Facing either a state or federal criminal charge means that the statute of limitations for that crime must be considered. If you are being charged by both state and federal, then both apply.

There are often certain provisions that accompany the statute of limitations for certain crimes and that is a very compelling reason that you should have a criminal defense attorney working on your case right from the start.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum amount of time that prosecution can be initiated after the commission of the crime. The clock is typically activated either when the alleged offense occurred, but in some cases, it can be when the offense was discovered. Sometimes it can be extended due to certain circumstances.

Statute of limitations can vary depending on the crime, the severity of the crime, and the jurisdiction. Some severe crimes do not have a statute of limitations.

Statutes of limitations are in place for several reasons. Some of the more popular arguments for them include:

  • Important evidence may be lost over time
  • Witness memories can get foggy, or they can forget key details
  • They prevent unfair prosecution or other unfair legal actions
  • They prevent unfair prosecution of a person who committed an offense in their distant past

Can You Get in Trouble for Something You Did as a Kid? 

Many people wonder if they can be prosecuted for a crime they committed when they were a minor. In most cases, juvenile courts do not have jurisdiction over people who are age 22 or older. This means that it isn’t likely, especially since many statutes of limitations are around 4 or 5 years.

To determine what statute of limitations applies, the court will have to look at the age of the person when they committed the crime, the type of crime that was committed, in what jurisdiction the crime was committed, and what is the statute of limitations for the crime.

An adult can be charged and go to jail for a crime that was committed when they were a minor. However, there are several factors that will be taken into account such as the laws of the state, the severity of the crime, and the age when the crime was committed well as the current age.

These situations can get extremely complex, and that’s why an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is needed to protect all the rights and ensure the best outcome.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Crimes Under Federal Law?

18 US Code § 3282 contains the guidance for federal statutes of limitations for most federal crimes which is five years. However, there are some crimes that have a longer statute of limitations or none at all. In certain cases, it can also be extended such as when investigators need DNA evidence from the accused, when the accused is a fugitive, or when investigators are obtaining foreign evidence from overseas.

Some federal statutes of limitations are longer than five years for certain crimes, such as:

Federal cybercrime is a good example of extended statutes of limitations.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act does not provide a specific statute of limitations for cybercrimes. There is a two-year statute of limitations for civil actions but for criminal actions it defaults to the standard federal limitations period of five years per 18 U.S.C. § 3282.

  • There are two exceptions to the default limit. If someone violates either of these laws that caused the type of damage described in  18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(c)(4) the statute of limitations is 8 years:
  • (4)(A) except as provided in subparagraphs (E) and (F), a fine under this title, imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both, in the case of—

(i)an offense under subsection (a)(5)(B), which does not occur after a conviction for another offense under this section, if the offense caused (or, in the case of an attempted offense, would, if completed, have caused)—

(I) loss to 1 or more persons during any 1-year period (and, for purposes of an investigation, prosecution, or other proceeding brought by the United States only, loss resulting from a related course of conduct affecting 1 or more other protected computers) aggregating at least $5,000 in value.

(II) the modification or impairment, or potential modification or impairment, of the medical examination, diagnosis, treatment, or care of 1 or more individuals.

(III) physical injury to any person.

(IV) a threat to public health or safety.

(V) damage affecting a computer used by or for an entity of the United States Government in furtherance of the administration of justice, national defense, or national security; or

(VI) damage affecting 10 or more protected computers during any 1-year period; or

(ii) an attempt to commit an offense punishable under this subparagraph.

  • 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(1)
    • (a)Whoever—
    • (1) having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, and by means of such conduct having obtained information that has been determined by the United States Government pursuant to an Executive order or statute to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national defense or foreign relations, or any restricted data, as defined in paragraph y. of section 11 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation willfully communicates, delivers, transmits, or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;
  • 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(5)(A)
    • (a)Whoever—
    • (5)(A) knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally causes damage without authorization, to a protected computer.

What Federal Laws Have No Statute of Limitations?

Some federal crimes do not have a statute of limitations. This means that no matter how long ago the crime was committed, the person can still be charged with it. These crimes include:

Statutes of Limitations for Federal Crimes

While most federal crimes do have a 5-year statute of limitations, some can be longer or shorter. These are the statutes of limitations for some common federal crimes.

Crime Max Statute of Limitations Exceptions
Aggravated Assault None
Assault 5 years from the date of offense Some circumstances may dictate 8 years
Child Molestation 10 years The life of the child if it is a longer period
Child Pornography No limitation
Criminal Battery 8 years No limit for cases with serious injury or death
Criminal Extortion/Blackmail 5 years of alleged extortion event
Cybercrime 5 years 8 years for exemptions under 1030(c)(4) and 1030(a)(1)
Domestic Violence 5 years Up to no limit depending on the severity of the crime
Drug Crimes 5 years Up to no limit depending on the severity or if death or serious injury occurred
Drug Manufacturing/Drug Importation 5 years
Drug Possession 5 years
Drug Trafficking 5 years
DWI/DUI 5 years
Failure to Register 5 years
False Imprisonment 8 years No limitation if death occurred
Felony Burglary 5 years No limitation if death or serious injury occurred
Guns and Weapons Charges 5 years
Homicide No limitation
Indecent Exposure 5 years No limitation if death occurred
Kidnapping 8 years No limitations if death occurred
Revenge Porn 5 years No limitation when associated with violent crime, drug trafficking, etc.
Sex Offenses 5 years No limitation based on severity and type of crime
Sexual Abuse 5 years No limitation based on severity and type of crime
Sexual Assault 5 years No limitation based on severity and type of crime
Statutory Rape 6 years 15 years based on circumstances and aggravating factors
Theft 7 years Can be extended under certain circumstances

What is the Statute of Limitations for Crimes Under New York Law?

New York Criminal Procedure Law – CPL § 30.10 contains the guidance for New York statutes of limitations for crimes committed in the state. Many offenses, called “unspecified felonies,” have a statute of limitations of five years. Some more severe crimes have no time limit at all. Other times, the statute of limitations can be extended due to special circumstances similar to the extension of limitations for federal crimes.

New York offenses that have a statute of limitation for longer (or shorter) than five years include:

  • 1 year
    • Larceny violating a fiduciary duty
      • Statute of limitations is from the discovery of the crime or when the crime should have been discovered
  • 10 years
    • Second-degree rape
      • Statute of limitations is from the date of reporting
  • 20 years
    • Second-degree rape
      • Statute of limitations is from when the crime occurred

What New York Laws Have No Statute of Limitations?

In New York, Class A Felony offenses do not have a statute of limitations. The person can be charged with the crime at any time, regardless of how long ago the crime was committed. These Class A offenses include:

  • Murder
  • First-degree rape
  • Sexual misconduct against a child
  • Aggravated sexual abuse

Statutes of Limitations for New York Crimes

Most crimes in New York have a 5-year statute of limitations. However, some can be longer or have no limitations at all. The clock stops though when the defendant was out of the state continuously, but the extension of the limitation cannot exceed five years. These are the statutes of limitations for some common crimes in New York:

Crime Max Statute of Limitations Exceptions
Aggravated Assault 5 years It may be extended if death occurred
Assault 5 years
Child Molestation 5 years The period of limitation does not begin until the child turns 18 years old, or the crime is reported to a law enforcement agency, whichever is earlier.
Child Pornography 5 years
Criminal Battery 5 years
Criminal Extortion/Blackmail 5 years
Cybercrime 5 years
Domestic Violence 5 years
Drug Crimes 5 years to no limits
Drug Manufacturing/Drug Importation 5 years
Drug Possession 5 years Second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance has no limitation
Drug Trafficking No limitation
DWI/DUI 5 years
Failure to Register 5 years
False Imprisonment 5 years
Felony Burglary 5 years
Guns and Weapons Charges 5 years to no limitation
Homicide No limitation
Indecent Exposure 5 years
Kidnapping 5 years No limitation for first-degree kidnapping
Revenge Porn 5 years
Sex Offenses 5 years No limitation depending on the circumstances, such as aggravated rape
Sexual Abuse 5 years
Sexual Assault 5 years
Statutory Rape 5 years
Theft 5 years
Misdemeanors 2 years
Violations or petty offenses 1 year Traffic violations never expire – no statute of limitations

In the court of law, the statute of limitations can make or break a case. But understanding the complexities of federal or New York crime and the associated statute of limitations requires a legal professional who understands criminal law and has the experience to navigate the criminal court system.

If you are facing criminal charges, you need the experience and skill of top New York criminal defense lawyer, Igor Litvak of The Litvak Law Firm. He will work with you to ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the best possible outcome for your case. Don’t wait, call today at (718) 989-2908.