Michigan Criminal Statute of Limitations

Charges for a crime can only be filed within a specific timeframe, known as the statute of limitations. This timeframe is designed to prevent the effects of time on evidence from leading to false convictions.

Typically, the clock starts the day the alleged crime took place, and if charges are brought after the statute of limitations expires, a good lawyer can get them dismissed. Note that the statute of limitations doesn’t necessarily prevent charges from being filed. It only prevents them from being prosecuted. You must actively pursue this defense if the timeline of the crime is in question.

The Michigan criminal statute of limitations ranges between six and ten years for most crimes, with violent offenses falling on the far-end of the spectrum.

If you’re being charged for a crime that occurred outside of the statute of limitations, O’Keefe Law is here to help. Attorney Patrick William O’Keefe is a board-certified trial attorney with years of experience defending the rights of Michigan residents. To work with the top rated criminal trial lawyer in the state, reach out to O’Keefe Law for a consultation today.

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Michigan Criminal Statute of Limitations

Michigan law limits the time prosecutors have to file charges after a crime. The statute of limitations is 6 years for misdemeanors and felonies not specifically named in Michigan Penal Code.

Section 767.24 of the Michigan Compiled Laws includes the statute of limitations for certain criminal offenses.

A standard six-year statute of limitations applies to most criminal offenses, including:

  • Burglary
  • Assault
  • Arson
  • Identity theft
  • Attempted identity theft

For identity theft, the six-year statute of limitations doesn’t begin until the individual in question is identified rather than the date the crime occurred. Determining the start date of the statute of limitations is crucial in determining the validity of the charges against you.More serious crimes and felonies, such as sexual abuse and attempted to murder, fall under an extended ten-year time limit. These criminal charges include:

  • Child sexual abuse
  • Second, third, or fourth-degree criminal sexual misconduct or assault
  • Assault with intent to commit sexual misconduct
  • Kidnapping
  • Extortion
  • Assault with intent to commit murder
  • Attempted murder
  • First-degree home invasion
  • Manslaughter

In addition to the ten-year time limit, the child sex crime charges above must also be filed before the victim’s 21st birthday.  For sex crimes involving DNA, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until a suspect is identified.

There is also a ten-year statute of limitations for mortgage or real property fraud. This crime occurs when someone misrepresents information to insure a loan secured by real property. However, the claim must be filed within ten years of the offense or ten years from when the effect was recorded.

Important Exceptions to the Michigan Criminal Statute of Limitations

There are a few serious crimes for which there is no statute of limitations in Michigan, including:

  • First-degree sexual misconduct where the victim is under the age of 16 and certain conditions apply. Please see Section 750.520b of the Michigan Legislature for more information.
  • Murder
  • Violation of the anti-terrorist act
  • Violation of the explosives, bombs, and harmful devices act

These criminal charges are felonies and punishable by life imprisonment. Again, no statute of limitations can be imposed in these cases. However, if you can get the charges against you reduced, the statute of limitations may apply to the new charges.

Using the Statute of Limitations as a Criminal Defense

Attorney Patrick William O’Keefe has years of experience as a trial attorney and in using the statute of limitations as a defense. This process involves proving you were not charged in the allotted time frame.

For example, if someone charges you for assault, their claim must be brought within six years of the assault. If the charges happened after the legal time limit of six years, you might have a defense, but it’s important to remember that not all charges fall under the six-year statute of limitations as detailed above.

Your case may also be complicated by circumstances that extend or pause the statute of limitations, known as tolling.

What is Tolling?

Certain scenarios under Michigan state law “toll” or stop the statute of limitations. For example, if you leave the state of Michigan, the period to bring a charge may be extended, meaning that the clock on a statute of limitations would be extended by the time you were out of state. This extension only applies if the time spent out of state occurred before the statute of limitations expired.

Determining whether charges were filed within the statute of limitations can be particularly challenging if you were in and out of state throughout the specified timeframe. Working with an experienced legal team like ours that can help establish and prove your residency beyond a shadow of a doubt is essential in this scenario.

In addition to time spent out of state, tolling can also apply if you were a minor at the time of the alleged incident. In that case, the statute of limitations usually begins on your 18th birthday. However, for criminal purposes, the State of Michigan may consider you an adult on your 17th birthday.

Defend Your Rights

If you’re facing criminal charges, whether you believe your case might defensible under the Michigan criminal statute of limitations or not, get in touch with our team today. We will do everything we can to defend your rights either way.

Though the law is constantly changing, at O’Keefe law, we keep abreast of the latest changes and updates to Michigan law and have an excellent track record fighting cases outside the statute of limitations.

For almost a decade, O’Keefe Law has been one of the leading criminal defense firms in the State of Michigan, led by one of the two board-certified trial attorneys in the state.

Our team is ready and willing to help you determine if you can use the statute of limitations in your favor. Call us at 517-273-0421 or email us for a case evaluation. We’re on hand to answer your questions 24 hours a day.