Common Misconceptions about Statute of Limitations in Criminal Cases

John Lawrence Buckley

Written by

Criminal Defense Attorney

Contributor Level 16

Posted over 4 years ago. 13 helpful votes



Most crimes have a fixed SOL

While the SOL may differ between jurisdictions, a range of 6 months to 3 years is common for most offenses. However, extremely serious crimes such as murder and kidnapping often have no limitations.


The SOL prevents a criminal defendant from defending against stale charges

If the state is not prevented from bringing these old charges, it may be difficult for a defendant to present an adequate defense. Witness memories fade. Physical evidence may no longer be available.


Failure to appear in court and SOL

After charges have been filed, your failure to appear in court has no effect whatsoever on the SOL.


Right to a Speedy Trial

Your speedy trial rights are different than a SOL violation. A speedy trial violation means that the state must bring your case to trial within a specified amount of time from the date of your arraignment or from the date when you last waived your right to speedy trial. If you waive your speedy trial right, it restarts the clock in which the state must bring your case to trial.


Failure to appear in court and Speedy Trial rights

If you fail to appear in court for any reason, you have effectively if not expressly, waived your right to a speedy trial. The clock will begin running again upon your next court appearance.

Additional Resources

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