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Statute of limitations (criminal) If a case has been filed does that mean the statute of limitations has been "tolled"?

Turlock, CA |
Attorney answers 5

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Statute of limitations = time within to file a complaint or charge against someone in court.

Misdemeanors - must be filed within one year
Felony - varies depending on case - some have no limit like murder but generally is the maximum prison sentence possible - most are 3 years.

Speedy Trial - If not brought to court within 1 year for a misdemeanor then presumed prejudice to the accused and Due Process is presumed violated. DA can sometimes get around this but hardly ever on a misdemeanor.

Felony is a bit different - mostly you have to show prejudice - like witnesses have died, memories have faded, the list goes on and on.

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The above information does not establish an attorney client relationship nor is it meant to provide legal advice.


Tolled means something else. But, for the purposes of your question, once the case has been filed, the statute of limitations doesn't apply. However, you do have a right to a speedy trial. If you are waiving time, then you are waiving your right to a speedy trial. You can pull your time waiver at any time and have the case proceed much more rapidly.


If the statute of limitations normally had run for the case for which you have been charged, then the time limitations MAY have been tolled. Certain crimes allow for tolling when the discovery of the offence or the reporting of it happen within a certain frame of time. Without more info, it's impossible to tell.


I'm going to answer this a little differently. Sometimes, a case is filed within the statute of limitations but the defendant isn't served with it or is otherwise unaware of it for many years. Perhaps a warrant was issued and never served. Later, he/she is arrested on the warrant, or fimds out about the case and wants to get it resolved. In these situations the defense is not that the charges were not filed in time but that your rights to a speedy trial were violated. There are some foundational facts to establish, but if they are proven the case must be dismissed.

In other situations, as mentioned, such as sex and fraud cases, the statute doesn't begin to run until the date it is discovered or reported. This could be many, many years after the event is alleged to have occurred. It is a similar but different situation, and you may be arguing some of
the same principles.

If you are dealing with a case that didn't surface until a long time after it is supposed to have happened, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney to find and attack the case.


No. Merely filing a complaint does not toll the statute of limitations. "Tolling" means to stop the legal time at issue for a certain period of actual time. Thus, the actual time passing during the "tolling" period does not count toward the legal time at issue.

Andrew Blair Leventhal

Andrew Blair Leventhal


I am also unsure what you are asking in the substantive, not title portion, of your question. Note general rule for misdemeanors is 1 year from the offense date - PC 802 and for felonies, 3 years from the offense date PC 801. Those are GENERAL rules and the code is riddled with exceptions that give the prosecutor more time to file certain matters. The offense charged dictates the statute of limitations time. For example, PC 800 tells us that a crime that carries at minimum 8 years in prison ( a felony) gives the prosecutor 6 years from the date of the offense to file - that would be an exception. Also, if you check out PC 803, you will see that the statute of limitations for an enumerated offense in that section is generally is "tolled" or does not run from the date of the offense, but rather triggers from at the time the offense is "discovered." Hope that helps.

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