The statute of limitations (SOL) is the time limit a government or legal body has to prosecute a crime. This is also the period within which law enforcement must find sufficient evidence to bring charges. In many cases, however, the statute of limitations can be suspended. This means that the statute of limitations is no longer in effect during a specific period, but that it will resume eventually. If the statute of limitations (SOL) is suspended, can you still be arrested?
You may need to be made aware of its impact on your case if you’ve committed a crime in California. If you’re worried about being arrested for a crime, you may want to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Dod Law, APC today. We can help you figure out if the suspension of the statute of limitations applies to your case.
Why Does this Exist?
The statute of limitations was enacted to prevent unfair prosecution due to witness memories being faulty, meaning that certain evidence couldn’t be relied upon after a certain amount of time passed. Other reasons were that witnesses and evidence, which could have helped with the defense, disappeared or were lost.
Presently, in California, the statute of limitations (SOL) depends on the crime. SOL begins as soon as the alleged crime is complete. Here are some examples:
- One year for most misdemeanors
- Two years for sexual exploitation by a medical professional
- Three years for most felony charges or specific misdemeanors against people under 14 years of age
- Four years for felony fraud, fraud against the elderly or dependent adults, or by a public officer or employee
- Five years for physical wounds inflicted on a current or former intimate partner and crimes against the elderly or dependent adults.
- 10 years for sex crimes requiring sex offender registration or failing to register
There is no constraints on felonies that are punishable by death or life in prison. These crimes can include murder, treason, aggravated kidnapping or sexual assault of a child, embezzlement of public funds, or most rape cases.
Can the Statute of Limitations in California be Suspended?
While it might be the relief of some that crimes have a time limit on when a person can be arrested and prosecuted, a person should be aware there are circumstances in which the statute of limitations can be suspended or tolled in California. In criminal cases, the statute of limitations can be suspended for the following reasons:
- If the person being charged is out of the state for up to three years
- If a person has a pending case in California for the same crime
- Until evidence is given to the prosecution
So, for example, if a person has a pending case for the same crime, the statute of limitations stops and then resumes when the case is resolved. Another possible reason for tolling the statute of limitations is when it is discovered that there was a falsification or forgery of records from a public office or the use of someone else’s personal identifying information for illegal purposes.
Can You Be Arrested After the Statute of Limitations is Suspended?
You can be arrested after it is suspended. For example, if a person commits a crime and flees to another state, there can still be a warrant for that person’s arrest. The statute of limitations might be suspended, but a person can be arrested at any moment and extradited to California.
Once a person is arrested and brought back to California, the statute of limitations resumes. The statute of limitations is suspended so that a person cannot avoid prosecution by fleeing the state. They cannot argue that it ran out while they were away and should no longer be prosecuted for the crime.
Reach Out for a Free Case Review from San Diego’s Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Dod Law, APC
You will need to understand the legal complexities of your case thoroughly, and that’s why you should seek counsel at Dod Law, APC. We know that being arrested and prosecuted for a crime can be confusing. Having legal representation with over 18 years of experience who can speak on your behalf is important for your future.
We will do everything we can to stand up for you in a criminal court of law if needed. If you need help with your case, call Dod Law, APC at our San Diego office (619) 814-5110 | Vista office 760-814-6025 or complete our contact form for your 100% free case review today.