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What Are the Statute of Limitations for Crime in New Jersey?

Technology is everchanging. It improves and adapts every day. With these technological advancements comes a new ability to more accurately and efficiently prosecute crimes with the use of forensics, facial recognition, and photo and video evidence. DNA from a crime scene that has been unidentifiable for years can now be analyzed and matched with more precision than ever before. But is DNA from that long ago still relevant? It depends on the crime. In New Jersey, certain crimes can be prosecuted for years after the offense or sometimes indefinitely depending on the statute of limitations. If you are facing criminal charges, contact a Bergen County criminal defense attorney for assistance.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

For criminal charges, a statute of limitations is a law determining the maximum amount of time that can pass after an event in which a person can begin legal proceedings. In simpler terms, it is the time constraint that a person must press charges or file a lawsuit or claim within. The length of the statute of limitations will vary depending on the type of crime that was committed, and some crimes may not have a limit at all. Disorderly persons offenses (New Jersey’s term for misdemeanors) will have a shorter prosecution window because they are usually less severe crimes. An indictable crime (New Jersey’s term for a felony) will have a much longer statute.

How Long Are the Statute of Limitations in New Jersey?

There is not one set statute of limitations, but a variety for each category of crime. In New Jersey, the standard statute of limitations include the following.

  • Disorderly persons offense or petty offense: 1 year
  • Official misconduct and/or bribery: 7 years
  • Murder: none
  • Manslaughter: none
  • Sexual assault: none
  • Terrorism crimes: none
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident: 1 year
  • DWI: 90 days
  • Refusing a breathalyzer: 90 days
  • Driving with a suspended license: 90 days
  • Any other crime: 5 years

There are exceptions to any rule, including statute of limitations. For example, if a person under the age of 18 commits sexual assault or endangers the life of a child, the statute of limitations is 5 years after they turn 18 years old.

The statute can also be tolled, meaning paused, if the defendant flees at any point or if the prosecution is pending.

Can a Lawyer Help if I’m Charged With a Crime Years Later?

Statutes of limitation and the law in general and be complex and confusing. With different tolling rules and varying situations being able to increase or decrease the time constraint for legal action it is important to acquire the services of an experienced attorney.

If the state tries to prosecute you when the statute of limitations has already passed your lawyer can use this fact as a defense. Hopefully, this will result in a trial dismissal. Unfortunately, statute laws are complicated and this argument is not foolproof. Having a skilled lawyer on your side will be instrumental in reducing or eliminating your charges.

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