Washington State Criminal Statute of Limitations
Its more than just a time limitation...Statutes of limitation generally require the criminal to remain in the state, gainfully employed and visible, seeming to necessitate that the criminal remain "catchable." If the authorities fail to discover a criminal living in the open within a specified amount of time, society has determined that at that point the criminal should be able to live free from the possibility of prosecution. It appears that this notion is born out of a sense of mercy more than pragmatics: if the criminal is a fugitive, out of the state in which the crime was committed or otherwise living in hiding, this tolls, or suspends, the statute. (Once the criminal reenters the state the statute resumes running.) However, if the criminal were living an open, public, so-called "reformed" life, after a reasonable period of time he is allowed to be free from capture.
For felony offenses...Usually, most crimes charged in a superior court in WA will be a felony.
Examples of statute of limitations for various felonies are: Murder, arson causing death: none; homicide by abuse, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault causing death, hit-and-run injury/accident causing death: none; public official misconduct, arson: 10 yrs.; rape if reported 1 yr. of commission: 10 yrs., or if victim is under 14 yrs. old, 3 yrs. after victim turns 18, whichever is later; rape if not reported within 1 yr.: 3 yrs. or if victim is under 14 yrs. old, 3 yrs. after victim turns 18 yrs. old, but not more than 7 yrs. after rape; child molestation, indecent liberties, incest: if victim is under 14 yrs. old, 3 yrs. after victim turns 18 yrs. old, but not more than 7 yrs. of offense; leading organized crime or criminal profiteering: 6 yrs. Class C felony: 5 yrs.; bigamy and all other felonies: 3 yrs.
For misdemeanor offenses...Anything charged in a municipal or district court will be either a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor.
For gross misdemeanors, such as assault 4th (DV or non-DV), DUIs, theft 3rd, trespassing one, the limitation is 2 years.
For simple misdemeanors such as shoplifting, trespassing 2nd, DWLS 3rd, or disorderly conduct, there is a one year statute.