How Long Does the State Have to Bring Criminal Charges Against You?

Generally, the state must bring criminal charges within a prescribed time period, known as the “statute of limitations.” This time period varies according to the crime allegedly committed, but if a particular statute is silent on the issue, then Illinois law sets forth a general timeframe: Felony charges must be brought within three years of commission, and misdemeanor charges must be brought within one year and six months of commission.

There are limited exceptions. For example, the statute of limitations may be extended under the following circumstances:

1. In a prosecution for theft involving a breach of fiduciary obligation where the aggrieved person is under 18 or is legally disabled, the action may be commenced during the minority or disability or within 365 days after the minor becomes an adult or the disability ends. For example, if the aggrieved person is legally disabled and retains this disability for his entire life, then criminal charges may be brought at any point during his lifetime.

2. If the prosecution is based on a public officer’s or employee’s actions during employment, then the action may be commenced within one year after a person having a legal duty to report the offense discovers what happened. If the person having a duty to report does not make this discovery, the action can be commenced within one year after the prosecution becomes aware.
Note, however, that the limitations period cannot be extended more than three years beyond the applicable statutory period.

3. A prosecution for pornography involving children, aggravated child pornography, indecent solicitation of a child and other related offenses may be commenced within 365 days of the victim turning 18 years old. However, the limitations period cannot end sooner than three years after commission of the offense.

4. A prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault or aggravated criminal sexual abuse may be commenced within 10 years of commission of the offense if the victim reported the offense to law enforcement within three years of commission.

5. A prosecution for misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse involving a minor may be commenced within 10 years after the child victim turns 18 years old.

6. A prosecution for theft involving real property exceeding $100,000 in value, identity theft or aggravated identify theft may be commenced within seven years of the last act committed in furtherance of the crime.

These are only some examples of extended statutes of limitations for criminal offenses committed in Illinois.

An effective criminal defense attorney will first take note of such threshold issues as whether the prosecution is legally permitted to bring criminal charges in the first place. One of those threshold issues is whether charges have been brought within the allotted timeframe. Contact one of our Will County Criminal Defense Attorneys today if you have been charged with any criminal offense. We will answer the threshold questions and mount an effective defense on your behalf. We can assist those in Frankfort, Joliet and the surrounding area.

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26 East Clinton Street Joliet, IL 60432