Whenever a crime is committed, prosecution for that particular criminal case must commence within a certain period of time. This is often referred to as the statute of limitations, and if prosecution does not begin within the time limit set for that specific felony, then the person responsible for the offense can no longer be charged. In the state of New Jersey, the standard statute of limitations for most criminal cases is five years. However, this standard is not applicable to all felonies. Depending on the circumstances, the period of time for prosecution can be higher compared to the normal statute of limitations, or it may not even exist based on the severity of the crime. If you have recently been charged with a criminal offense, do not hesitate to contact a Bergen County criminal defense attorney from the Law Office of Attorney Conway for more information about your case.
Typically, the statute of limitations for criminal cases in New Jersey is five years. But there are exceptions carved out depending on the nature of the felony. For example, felonies like bribery, official misconduct, or causing widespread destruction like a flood, explosion, building collapse, the release of hazardous material, or other similar acts, have higher periods of time for prosecution to be pursued. In cases involving bribery and official misconduct, the statute of limitations is set at seven years, while cases related to causing widespread destruction have a time limit of 10 years.
Offenses related to children are also treated differently regarding their statute of limitations. This can include crimes involving sexual misconduct, or endangering the welfare of a minor. In either case, prosecution must commence within five years after the minor turns 18 years old, or within two years of the discovery of the felony. Usually, the period of time set forth for prosecution in these types of cases is whichever comes last. On the other hand, crimes like murder, manslaughter, and rape have no statute of limitations. Because the severity of these kinds of crimes is considered to be uniquely egregious, there is no time limit for prosecution to commence.
It should also be noted that the statute of limitations can be paused depending on the circumstances. This can be applicable in situations where the suspect is fleeing from the law, in which the normal time limit would begin once they are apprehended. The period of limitations can also be put on hold if the accused is already being prosecuted for another charge of a similar nature. The countdown for the statute of limitations for the second charge will only begin after the first charge has been settled.