Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitation is a law which forbids prosecutors from charging someone with a crime that was committed more than a specified number of years ago. RCW 9A.04.080 governs Washington’s statute of limitation. Generally, the State may not commence a charge after the period of limitation has run.

NO STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Murder, Homicide by Abuse, Arson if death results, Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Assault if death results, Hit and Run Injury-Accident if death results.

10-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Arson if no death results, Indecent Liberties with victim incapable of consent, any felony committed by a public officer if connected to duties of office or oath of office and Rape in the First and Second Degree if reported within one year.

6-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Unlawful Use of Proceeds from Criminal Profiteering, Leading Organized Crime, Money Laundering, Improperly Obtaining Financial Information, Identity Theft, Theft in the First or Second Degree when accomplished by color or aid of deception, and Trafficking in Stolen Property in the First or Second Degree when property is a stolen motor vehicle or major part of a motor vehicle.

5-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Class C felonies in 74.09 (Medical Care), 82.36 (Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax), 82.38 (Special fuel Tax).

3-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

All other felonies, with special rules for Bigamy, Voyeurism, Theft First Degree where victim is a tax exempt corporation.

2-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

All gross misdemeanors have a 2 year statute of limitation.

1-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Simple misdemeanors have a 1-year statute of limitation.

EXCEPTIONS & EXCLUSIONS

The time periods do not run when the person charged is not usually and publicly a resident within the state. Also, if the crime is a “sex offense” as defined under RCW 9.94A.030 the period runs from the incident or one year from the date on which the identity of the suspect is conclusively established by DNA or by photograph, whichever is later. Additionally, a complaint may be amended to add a charge after the statute of limitations has run, so long as it arises out of the same facts and does not substantially broaden the original charge. These exceptions/exclusions are not exhaustive. The legislature is constantly altering the statutes surrounding statute of limitations. Please consult a competent attorney for specific inquiries about specific charges.

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