Arizona Criminal Process: Statute of Limitations Arizona

statute of limitations arizonaProsecutors in Arizona, just like in all other parts of the US, have a limited timeframe to file charges after a criminal offense has occurred. This timeframe is known as the statute of limitations. The aim of the statute of limitations is to preserve evidence and ensure optimal conditions for a fair investigative process to take place.

The statute of limitations in Arizona is dependent on the type of crime. For some offenses, it’s just a few years. Other, usually much more serious crimes, have no statute of limitations whatsoever.

Criminal Statute of Limitations in Arizona: An Overview

A certain set of crimes in Arizona comes with no statute of limitations. These crimes include:

  • Homicide
  • Being a member of a criminal syndicate
  • Violent sexual assault
  • Public fund misuse
  • Falsification of public records
  • Terrorist acts
  • Class 2 felonies that involve either sexual offenses against or the sexual exploitation of a minor

Most other felonies have a seven-year statute of limitations.

Misdemeanor charges carry a one-year statute of limitations. For petty offenses, the statute of limitations in Arizona is set at six months.

If the accused individual is absent from the state, the statute of limitations stops running. In the case of some serious offenses and when the identity of a person remains unknown, the statute of limitations will not run either.

Click here for more info on Arizona criminal statutes of limitations.

Exceptions and Additional Considerations

The statute of limitations mentioned in the above sections are general guidelines. There could be differences that depend on the specifics of the case.

A federal offense committed in Arizona, for example, will come with its specific statute of limitations. Whenever the federal statute of limitations is triggered in criminal proceedings, it supersedes the local regulations.

Understand the fact that just because you have not been prosecuted immediately doesn’t mean that a court process isn’t going to be launched later on. In the case of serious crimes, it’s common for the investigative process to start a few years after the actual crime was committed.

As long as the statute of limitations isn’t over, you could face consequences for your actions.

Here’s one more specific scenario to keep in mind.

If you’ve been previously charged with a crime but the court dismissed the charges before the statute of limitations has expired, a new prosecution still has the right to initiate proceedings against you within six months of the dismissal date.

Criminal Is Not the Same as Civil

Criminal and civil court procedures are ruled by different sets of regulations. You need to understand the fact that these proceedings are distinctive from each other. Civil lawsuits come with their own statute of limitations, depending on the crime and the consequences.

A person that commits a violent sexual crime for example, will face criminal proceedings indefinitely. The victim of sexual abuse, however, could also decide to initiate a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator.

For a civil lawsuit in the case of sexual abuse, a filing must occur within two years of the act or within two years of the victim’s 18th birthday whenever a crime has been committed against a minor.

The situation can get quite complex, which is why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney.

A good Arizona criminal lawyer will give you a better idea about the nature of criminal or civil proceedings against you. Don’t wait until the last possible minute. The procedural rules are very strict and your defendant will need some time to prepare for the case.

Statute of limitations considerations are quite complex, especially if there’s an exception or the time period has been paused for a certain reason. You need a lawyer, even if the crime is minor. There will be serious repercussions for underestimating the situation and the eventual consequences.

Click here to find out the difference between assault and self-defense in Arizona.