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Do all crimes have statutes of limitations?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

While many people may think that certain events that happened in the past should remain in the past, that is not always the case. In fact, individuals could come forward and claim they were a victim of an alleged event that took place years ago in hopes of having an accused person prosecuted. However, depending on Massachusetts law, that may not be possible.

If you have recently found yourself under investigation for a crime that allegedly took place years ago, you may be baffled. Still, depending on the nature of the supposed crime, state authorities could still move forward with a case. However, it is important to understand whether any statute of limitation may apply.

What are statutes of limitations?

All states have statutes of limitations regarding certain crimes, but they differ. These statutes indicate the amount of time the prosecution has after a crime takes place to move forward with a case. In some instances, time could pass because the victim did not want to come forward until years later. It is also possible for investigators to come across new evidence in an older case that leads them to a suspect. However, the lengths of time vary, depending on the crime, and some crimes do not have time limitations.

What crimes do not have limitations?

Under Massachusetts state law, the following examples are some of the crimes that do not have a statute of limitations:

  • Murder
  • Conspiracy to a crime/accessory to a crime
  • Indecent assault and battery on a child younger than 14
  • Indecent assault and battery on a person with intellectual disability
  • Rape or abuse of a child

Other serious crimes may have lengthy time periods in which to prosecute — such as 10 to 15 years — but still have a limitation, including:

  • Rape
  • Assault with intent to rape
  • Conspiracy to commit rape
  • Armed robbery
  • Assault with intent to rob or murder
  • Robbery by an unarmed person

Misdemeanors and some felonies have a six-year statute of limitations.

What does this mean for you?

If authorities accuse you of a crime that does not have a statute of limitations or falls within the time period allowed for prosecution, your case will likely move forward as any other case would, even if a significant amount of time has passed. As a result, you may want to ensure that you understand your criminal defense options for addressing any criminal charges that come against you.

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