New Jersey Statute of Limitations
At one point or another, everyone makes a decision that they regret. When the regret involves engaging in a criminal act, the added fear of prosecution makes matters much worse. However, if charges are not set forth within a certain amount of time, the individual that committed the criminal act may be able to carry on with life worry free. This may be a possibility because of New Jersey’s statute of limitations.
An Explanation of the Statute of Limitations
A criminal statute of limitations is the time period in which the state must bring charges against you for the commission of a crime. Otherwise, you cannot be prosecuted for committing the crime, even if it becomes clear that you committed the crime at issue. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that charges are filed in a timely matter.
What are the Relevant Statutes of Limitations?
The statute of limitations for criminal matters vary depending on the offense committed. The general rules provides that the state must bring charges against a defendant within five years of the date in which the crime was committed. The five-year time frame provided under the general rule will not apply to offenses that have specific timeframes.
Different statute of limitation periods will apply for some offenses. For instance, a state may prosecute you for committing a murder at any time. The state will not place a limit on the prosecution of murder cases, as well as prosecutions for other offenses such as sexual assault or terrorism. The statute of limitations are also modified downward where the prosecution is for a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense. You must be formally charged within one year for a charge to be brought forth against you.
What Could Impact the Statute of Limitations?
There are some circumstances in which the statute of limitations may be tolled or stopped. During this tolling period, the ‘clock’ is stopped and time does not count toward preventing prosecution. Two important tolling periods include:
- Fleeing from justice: If an individual is hiding in an attempt to circumvent or elude an arrest, the time period will not prevent prosecution. The time period will stop until such time in which the individual begins to live out in the open and allows the possibility of being caught. The ability to be found does not mean that you need to engage in any behavior that will allow you to be detected and restrained easily. Doing everything you did before the commission of the crime may be sufficient to show that you were capable of being caught.
- Offenses against minors: For certain criminal offenses against minors, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until the minor child reaches the age of 18. Once the individual reaches the age of 18, the prosecution has five years from the individual’s 18th birthday to bring charges against an offender.
Contact an Attorney Today
As a criminal defense attorney, Phillip Murphy understand that sometimes things happen that individuals regret. If the past has caught up with you, you need an experienced attorney. If it is too late to prosecute you for an offense, we will fight to get any charges brought outside of the allowable time period dismissed. During an initial consultation, experienced Rockland and Bergen County attorney Phillip Murphy will explore this defense and any and all other defenses and strategies available to you.