Arizona Statutes of Limitations For Criminal Cases
If you’ve engaged in illegal conduct, you could be living in fear of arrest at any time. There is generally a long period of time that the police have to discover evidence and place you under arrest after a crime has been committed. This period of time is known as a “statute of limitations.” The statutes of limitations for police and prosecutors vary between states and among charges. If you’re concerned about a potential criminal investigation or prosecution, you may want to inform yourself about the statutes of limitations that would apply to your case in Arizona. If you have additional questions or concerns after reading the following, call our office to schedule your free consultation at 480-470-1504.
Arizona Criminal Classifications
There are three major types of criminal charges in Arizona: petty offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies. These classifications are listed in increasing order of severity. Felonies are further divided into 6 classes. First-degree is the most serious type of felony, while sixth-degree is the least serious. A.R.S. § 13-107 sets forth general statutes of limitations for the three types of criminal charges. For petty offenses, the Arizona statute of limitations is 6 months. For misdemeanors, the statute of limitations is 1 year. Felonies in classes 2-6 have a statute of limitations of 7 years.
Specific Arizona Statutes of Limitations
There are several exceptions to the general statutes of limitations listed above. A.R.S. § 13-107 provides that the statute of limitations does not run when the defendant can’t reasonably be found within the state. The prosecution also has 6 months to refile charges that were filed during the applicable statute of limitations, regardless of if this falls after the original statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for serious offenses doesn’t run when the defendant’s identity is unknown- you can find the list of applicable serious offenses in A.R.S. § 13-706. These tend to be violent crimes like sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, crimes against children, and kidnapping.
No Time Limits
There are no time limits for certain criminal charges in Arizona. Murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide have no time limits. Violent sexual assaults and class 2 felony sex offenses and sexual exploitation of a child have no time limits as well. Falsifying public records, including attempts at this crime, have a limitless statute of limitations.
Many types of crimes have a 7-year statute of limitations in Arizona. If you flee the scene of a car accident that results in death, your hit-and-run charges will fall under this category. Note that a moving violation resulting in a vehicle accident causing death carries a statute of limitations for 2 years, but this increases by 5 years if you flee the scene. Child sex trafficking also has a 7-year statute of limitations. Burglary, fraudulent schemes, and theft of $1,000 or more also carry a 7-year statute of limitations.
Frequently Asked Questions
I broke more than one law in a past criminal act. Which statute of limitations will apply to my situation?
You can face more than one criminal charge for the commission of a crime- for example, you may have committed assault, robbery, and unlawful imprisonment while robbing a store or bank. The statutes of limitations for each of these crimes will be applied separately to each charge. A longer statute of limitations will not attach itself to a less serious charge committed as a larger part of a crime. That means that if you are facing several charges for one crime that occurred in the past, you may have a defense if the statutes of limitations for some of your less serious charges have tolled.
Am I entitled to a public defender during the investigation process?
Unfortunately, you aren’t entitled to court-appointed representation until you have been taken into custody. This is less likely to occur during the investigation process for older crimes in which statutes of limitations may be at issue. You will need to seek out your own legal advice if you are in the midst of a criminal investigation, but haven’t yet been taken into custody or had charges filed against you.
My case was already dismissed. Should I be concerned here about the statute of limitations?
The focal point here will be if your case was dismissed with or without prejudice. When your charges have been dismissed with prejudice, the prosecution can’t re-file charges against you. However, if a case is dismissed without prejudice, that generally means that prosecutors are reserving the right to resume their case against you. The statute of limitations for your case can be extended up to 6 months if the original charges were filed within the applicable statute of limitations.
The charges against me are from a crime that occurred years ago. How can there be any evidence left for the prosecutors to use against me?
Forensic technology improves all the time, so there could always be new ways invented to analyze evidence obtained years ago at a crime scene. Additionally, you could be arrested for a crime more recently and be a match for evidence from a cold case. No matter how old the crime you face is, you should take charges seriously and put great effort into your legal defense.
Do the statutes of limitations from Arizona apply to crimes committed in other states?
No. Other states and federal laws set forth different statutes of limitations. The statute of limitations applied will be from the state in which the crime occurred unless it was a federal crime.
Can I leave the country for my statute of limitations to avoid jail time?
The exception allowing a statute of limitations to pause when a defendant leaves the state applies to when a defendant leaves the country as well. If you flee the country to evade criminal prosecution, the statute of limitations will pause until you return. Additionally, you may need to worry about extradition for more serious offenses.
How can I determine which statute of limitations applies to my situation?
The best way to discern the applicable statute of limitations is by consulting with an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney. If you tell them fully and honestly about the situation, they will be able to interpret the law and let you know whether the statute of limitations has tolled in your case.
Affordable & Experienced Private Criminal Defense Attorneys
Arizona has strict penalties for several types of crimes. Depending on your past, you might be looking over your shoulder for things that occurred long ago. Additionally, you could be mistakenly charged in a cold case based on aged or erroneously analyzed evidence. When your liberty is on the line, a court-appointed defender may not be the right fit for you. If you’re facing criminal charges, the applicable statute of limitations may be a workable defense when utilized by a skillful attorney. You deserve an experienced attorney who will do everything possible to obtain a favorable outcome for your situation. You also deserve this type of representation at a price that you can afford. My AZ Criminal Defense Lawyer team offers the perfect balance of these two qualities. We also offer payment plans that make the high-quality private legal defense more within reach. To get started with your free consultation, call 480-470-1504.
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