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Ask an Attorney: Do All Crimes Have a Statute of Limitations in California?

The Statute of Limitations, also known as SOL, is the maximum time period for which a person can be charged with a crime. While most crimes are covered by some type of statute of limitation, there are a few exceptions. Read on to learn what they are and how the lack can affect certain criminal cases. Then contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 if you have been charged with a crime and need a free legal consultation.

California Crimes That Do Not Have a Statute of Limitations Period

According to California Penal Code, there are a few types of offenses that do not have an SOL. They include any offense punishable by death, such as murder, an offense that is punishable by life in prison for life or life in prison without the possibility of parole, and embezzlement of public money.

A Few Things to Note About Statutes of Limitations

While every other crime not covered by the above crimes that do not have SOLs will have an SOL, the time frame of the SOL will be different. Second, it is important to note that the statutory period does not begin when the crime was committed but rather when the crime was discovered. As a result, if a person laundered money but the crime was not discovered until ten years after the act took place, the statute would begin at the day the crime was discovered – even though it was ten years later.

Other Statutes of Limitations

The California Penal Code lays out statutes of limitations based on how long the sentence would be if the person was convicted of the crime. For example, if a crime is punishable by eight years in prison or longer, then the SOL is six years. The law further states that a felony with less than eight years as the penalty has an SOL of three years, while a misdemeanor has a SOL of on year most of the time.

Exceptions to Laws Involving Statutes of Limitations

There are a number of exceptions to the laws regarding statutes of limitations. One example are wobbler offenses, which are crimes that a prosecutor can either charge as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the crime and the criminal history of the defendant. Does the SOL for a wobbler follow the rules for a misdemeanor or a felony? In that case, the prosecutor gets to decide.

The Purpose of the Statute of Limitations

Many people wonder: Why have the statute of limitations at all? The answer is simple: To attempt fairness. The fact of the matter is that as time goes on, it gets more difficult for a person to defend themselves against a crime. Witnesses may have moved, evidence may be lost, or the accused may not remember where they were on the date of the alleged crime.

Law Office of Michael L. Fell - Criminal Defense Lawyer

Michael L. Fell

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