Every crime in California is defined by a specific code section. Our attorneys explain the law, penalties and best defense strategies for every major crime in California.
Misdemeanor » What is the Statute of Limitations to File a Misdemeanor in California?
Under California criminal law, a statute of limitations (“SOL”) refers to the maximum time period for which a prosecutor can file criminal charges. The SOL in California for most misdemeanor cases is one year.
One of the main reasons the law puts limits on when a criminal case gets filed is to preserve a sense of fairness for the defendant.
The Statutory period for bringing a case begins when a criminal offense is discovered.
Further, while most crimes are governed by a statute of limitations, not all crimes have the same SOL.
What are the limitations for misdemeanors?
Most California misdemeanors have a SOL of one year. This means a prosecutor must file charges of a misdemeanor within one year of the offense. If no charges are brought during this one-year time period, a prosecutor loses the right to file them in the future.
There are exceptions, though, to the general one-year limitations rule. For example, the statute of limitations for misdemeanor violations committed against a minor under the age of 14 is three years. And, the SOL for sexual exploitation by a physician is two years.
Why have statute of limitations?
Statute of limitations exist to help ensure fairness for defendants. Evidence often gets lost or destroyed with the passage of time. Witnesses to crimes may also move after several years, or, they may no longer recall certain facts that took place. The result is that it would be unfair to pursue criminal charges against a person after a certain period of time has passed.
What is the Discovery Rule?
The Discovery Rule is used to determine when the statutory period for bringing criminal charges begins. The rule says that the SOL clock begins to run when an offense is discovered. So, for example, a person may commit a misdemeanor on January 1, 2019. If authorities do not learn of the crime until January 1, 2020, then they have until January 1, 2021 to bring misdemeanor charges.
Is there a statute of limitations for all crimes?
Not all crimes have a statute of limitations. Under California Penal Code 799 PC, charges of the following crimes can be brought against a person at any time:
Is the statute of limitations for all crimes one year?
Crimes in California have different statute of limitation periods. The SOL for an offense typically changes with the severity of the crime. According to California Penal Code 800 PC, crimes that are punishable by imprisonment for eight years or more have a SOL of six years. Under California Penal Code 801 PC, felonies (or offenses punishable by imprisonment) have a statute of limitations of three years. As stated above, less sever charges involving misdemeanors have a SOL of one year (in general).
Please note that there are definitely exceptions to these rules. Consider, for example, California wobblers. These are crimes that a prosecutor can charge as either a California misdemeanor or a felony. The statute of limitations for these offenses will vary depending on how a prosecutor decides to charge them.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
People attempting to get through McCarran Airport security with a firearm face arrest and serious federal charges, even if they genuinely forgot they were carrying a gun. All gun owners should be familiar with the following state and federal firearm rules for airports: 1. Open carry at airports In general, people may openly carry firearms ...
In criminal cases, a pretrial hearing is a formal court hearing that takes place after the arraignment but before the jury trial. Most misdemeanor cases will have several pretrial hearings in which the parties will try to resolve the case and, if not, will organize the issues and set the case for trial. These hearings give an ...
You’ve been charged with a Nevada misdemeanor in Reno. You believe, correctly, that misdemeanors are generally less serious offenses than felonies. But if you believe that because it’s “just” a misdemeanor you don’t face the possibility of jail time, you are sadly mistaken. While an experienced Reno, Nevada criminal defense attorney usually can help you avoid ...
Misdemeanor crimes in Nevada and gross misdemeanor crimes in Nevada are: the standard penalties they carry, whether defendants have the right to a jury trial, and how long defendants need to wait to get a conviction sealed from their criminal record Difference Misdemeanors versus Gross Misdemeanors in Nevada 1) Standard penalties Misdemeanor convictions: Up to ...