Everyone has heard of statute of limitations. There are various statutes of limitation for civil and criminal matters. This blog focuses on the North Carolina statute of limitations for criminal charges.
What is “statute of limitations”?
In a criminal law context, statute of limitations is a time limit that governs how much time prosecutors have to file criminal charges against a suspect. Once this time limit expires, prosecutors can no longer file charges against that suspect for the crime in which the time limit has expired for. However, as you will see below, there is no statute of limitations for the majority of more serious crimes in North Carolina.
When does the statute of limitation begin to run?
The limitations period typically starts to run the moment that the alleged crime as been completed. For example, if someone stole a bottle of wine from Harris Teeter on 4/1/2015, prosecutors have until 4/1/2017 to file criminal charges against the suspect.
It may surprise you to hear that there is no statute of limitations for felony criminal charges in North Carolina. This means that no matter how much time has elapsed since the commission of a crime, the state can charge a person with that crime. For example, in theory, a person who committed robbery with a dangerous weapon in 1992 could still be charged today in 2018.
Almost all North Carolina misdemeanors have a two-year statute of limitations. However, malicious misdemeanors have no statute of limitations. Malicious generally means that the crime was committing with malice and a bad motive. But as a general rule, misdemeanors in North Carolina have a two-year statute of limitations.
If you have been charged with a crime in North Carolina or South Carolina, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney to understand your options. Gilles Law has criminal defense lawyers licensed in both North Carolina and South Carolina, practicing both State criminal defense and Federal criminal defense.