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What You Should Know About Statutes of Limitations in Criminal Cases

If you are concerned about the possibility of facing criminal charges, it is critical to learn more about how the statute of limitations in various criminal offenses could affect your case. Statutes of limitations vary between and among different criminal offenses in Illinois, and in some cases, the statute of limitations ultimately could prevent the government from bringing charges against you. When you are facing charges, you should always work with a criminal defense lawyer who will work tirelessly to help you win your case. In the meantime, we want to provide you with more information about criminal statutes of limitations in Illinois. 

Statutes of Limitations can Prevent Charges from Being Brought After a Certain Period of Time

The primary thing to know about criminal statutes of limitations in Illinois is that the particular statute of limitations for the crime you are being investigated for ultimately could prevent the government from lawfully bringing charges against you. Here is how a statute of limitations works: From the date of the alleged criminal act, the government will have a specific amount of time (for most criminal offenses) to bring charges. Once that “clock” runs out, the government cannot bring charges against you any longer. 

While the statute of limitations can vary in a particular type of offense, in general, Illinois law sets the following statutes of limitations on felony and misdemeanor crimes:

  • Felony offenses: Three-year statute of limitations; or
  • Misdemeanor offenses: One year and six months.

Exceptions to the Rules 

While many felony and misdemeanor offenses will have the statutes of limitations outlined above, there are a number of exceptions. For example, a number of theft offenses have extended statutes of limitations, giving the prosecution seven years to file charges for identity theft and the same amount of time for theft of property with a value in excess of $100,000. Most notably, the following types of offenses do not have a statute of limitations, which means there is no amount of time that can pass that can prevent a prosecutor from bringing charges against you:

  • Murder;
  • Involuntary manslaughter;
  • Major sex offense charges, including sexual assault, sexual abuse of a child, and sex trafficking; and
  • Child pornography.

The eradication of the statute of limitations on sex crimes is a recent change to Illinois law, as an article in the Chicago Tribune points out. Indeed, that law only recently took effect on January 1, 2020. Prior to that change in the law, the statute of limitations on most of these kinds of offenses was ten years. 

Seek Advice From a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

Whether you have been wrongfully accused of a crime or you made a mistake and need experienced defense counsel to help you fight these charges and get back on track, our firm is here to help. One of the experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyers at our firm can assess the facts surrounding your case and can begin to develop a defense strategy that has the best chances of getting you an acquittal or having the charges against you dismissed. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Minkus as soon as possible to learn more about how we can help with your criminal defense case in Chicago.

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Senior Partner Jonathan Minkus has successfully defended individuals charged with every conceivable criminal offense, from traffic misdemeanors to death-penalty eligible homicides.

We urge you to contact us for a FREE, confidential, initial consultation.

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