The language of the law is often hard to digest and difficult to comprehend. Often legal terms have one meaning at face value but are used only to label complex legal concepts. While those who study the law have become accustomed to these labels, others who aren’t used to the language may find the words frustrating.
Criminal cases involve a lot of moving parts. This means that an attorney who is familiar with the language will not always have time to guess whether the client fully understands each word, especially if the client does not ask. An understanding of more common legal terms will make your case more smooth and less frustrating.
One of the most fundamental pieces of bringing a legal claim in a court of law is recognizing the statute of limitations. The statute is one of those labels that uses everyday words to describe a somewhat complex legal concept. The label itself refers to the idea that there are time limits on how long after a certain event a person may be brought into court for their connection with that event.
In criminal law, the statute of limitations acts as a barrier to a prosecutor and tells them exactly how long after an alleged crime takes place they are permitted to prosecute a defendant. The label is a bit misleading because there is not one single statute there are hundreds.
Different states have different statute of limitations. Each statute pertains to a different type of crime. The statute is also complex because there are different measuring points for different crimes. The clock does not always begin to run the moment the alleged crime took place. When the time provided by the statute of limitations has run up and the prosecutor is barred from bringing an action against the defendant it is said that the statute has “tolled.”
Minnesota Statute of Limitations
Now that you have an understanding of how the statute of limitations will affect a criminal prosecution, it may be helpful to know the statute of limitations specific to Minnesota law. As a general rule criminal acts in Minnesota have a statute of limitations of three years unless otherwise written out in the criminal code.
Crimes such as arson in the first, second, or third degree have a limitations period of five years from the commission of the act.
Acts that fall under the crime of hazardous and infectious waste along with thefts, check forgeries, credit fraud, and certain financial exploitation of vulnerable adults have a five-year limitations period.
A six-year limitations period applies to bribery of or by a public official, medical assistance fraud or theft, and labor trafficking of an adult.
Finally, if a sex offense in the first, second, or third degree is committed against a child and no DNA is available, the limitations period is either three years after the offense is reported to law enforcement or nine years after the offence was committed.
No Statute of Limitations
There are several crimes that have no statute of limitations in Minnesota whatsoever. This means that once the crime is committed, the defendant may be prosecuted at any time.
In Minnesota, these crimes include any criminal act that results in the death of a victim. Where someone is kidnapped there is no statute of limitations. If a defendant engages in labor trafficking of a child, meaning anyone under the age of eighteen, there will be no statute of limitations. Additionally there are certain sexual offenses that have no time limit. In Minnesota, sex offenses range in level of severity from first degree through fifth degree. According to the Minnesota criminal code where DNA evidence can be preserved and tested, there is no statute of limitations for violators whose crimes are sexual offenses in the first, second, or third degree.
The statute of limitations is a fundamental concept of our criminal justice system. If you have questions regarding your case, contact Kohlmeyer Hagen Law Office today.