How does the statute of limitations work?

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How does the statute of limitations work?

Let’s say an individual committed a crime 10 years ago and the statute of limitations is 10 years. Does that mean that the individual can no longer be prosecuted or arrested?

Asked on June 2, 2011 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You are correct.  If the statute of limitations has expired for a particular crime, one cannot be prosecuted for that crime.  As for being arrested, since the arrest would not lead to prosecution because the statute of limitations has expired, it would not make any sense to be arrested under those circumstances.

However, the definition of a particular crime may include the elements of a lesser offense and it is possible that the statute of limitations may not have expired on the lesser offense which could result in being arrested and prosecuted for that lesser offense.


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