How does the statute of limitations work?

UPDATED: Jun 2, 2011

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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


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

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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