Statute of limitations laws set a limit for prosecuting certain crimes. The criminal charges must be filed within the time period specified or they cannot be filed at all. The reason these laws are in place is so that evidence that has deteriorated over time is not used to make convictions.
However, there are a couple of situations that result in the period of limitation being suspended, including:
- Any time that the suspect was not in the state
- The time during the pendency of an indictment
The clock starts ticking on the statute of frauds duration on the date the crime was committed.
Generally, more serious crimes have longer statute of limitations periods, and the most serious crimes are not subject to statute of limitations laws.
When there is no statute of limitations in place
In Texas, there is no time limit in place for the following crimes:
- Murder and manslaughter
- Sexual assault or aggravated assault
- Offenses against young children
- Leaving the scene of an accident which resulted in death
- Human trafficking
In other words, prosecutors can charge individuals with the crimes above no matter how much time has passed since the alleged offense. In the case of crimes involving sexual performance by a child, if the child was younger than 17, the statute of limitations is 20 years.
When the statute of limitations is 10 years
The statute of limitations is set at 10 years in Texas for the following crimes:
- Theft by a fiduciary offenses
- Theft by a public servant offenses
- Felony offenses involving injury to disabled or elderly
- Sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault
- Compelling prostitution
When the statute of limitations is seven years
The statute of limitations is set at seven years in Texas for the following crimes: Misappropriation of fiduciary property, securing the execution of a document by deception, money laundering, credit card or debt abuse, fraudulent use of identifying information, bigamy and Medicaid fraud.
When the statute of limitations is five years
The statute of limitations is set at five years in Texas for the following crimes: Theft or robbery, kidnapping or burglary, injury to elderly or disabled individuals that is not a felony, abandoning or endangering a child and insurance fraud.
Other felonies have a three-year statute of limitations in place.
Remember, these are just the statute of limitations under state criminal law. Federal crimes have different statutes of limitations in place.