Arizona Statute of Limitations for Criminal Cases
When a crime is committed in Arizona, prosecutors have a limited amount of time to file criminal charges against the defendant. A criminal case cannot begin after the time limit has expired, even if the defendant is guilty.
However, the length of the statute of limitations for criminal cases in Arizona varies greatly depending on the crime committed. Some crimes have a very short time limit for pursuing a case, while others are longer and some have no statute of limitations at all.
In Arizona, the length of the statute of limitations for criminal cases depends on whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony. Let’s break down how the criminal case time limitations vary in Arizona.
The Different Statutes of Limitations for Criminal Cases in Arizona
Crimes with No Statute of Limitations
Some crimes don’t have any statute of limitations at all, so they can be pursued even when the crime was committed decades ago. Crimes with no statute of limitations in Arizona include:
- Homicide (ARS Title 13 Chapter 11)
- Sexual offenses (ARS Title 13 Chapter 14)
- Sexual exploitation of children (ARS Title 13 Chapter 35.1)
- Terrorism (ARS 13-2308.01)
- Unlawfully using an infectious biological substance or radiological agent (ARS 13-2308.03)
- Child sex trafficking (ARS 13-3212)
- Misuse of public monies (ARS 35-196.04)
- Felonies that involve falsifying public records (ARS 13-2407)
- Attempting to commit any of the above offenses
- Class 1 felonies
Misdemeanor Statute of Limitations
In most cases, the statute of limitations for class 1 through 3 misdemeanors in Arizona is one year. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence (DUI), disorderly conduct, and criminal damage.
Felony Statute of Limitations
Class 1 felonies have no statute of limitations in Arizona. But the statute of limitations for class 2 through 6 felony cases is seven years. Aggravated assault and aggravated DUI are both examples of felonies that have a seven-year time limit.
Statute of Limitations for Federal Crimes
It’s important to note that for federal crimes, the statute of limitations is almost always five years. But Arizona has its own time limitations for state crimes, which are listed in Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-107.
When Does the Time Limit to Prosecute Criminal Cases in Arizona Start?
Some other states start the clock as soon as the crime is committed. In Arizona, however, the time limit begins when the crime is discovered. This means that cases of fraud or abuse that go undiscovered for long periods of time have a better chance of being prosecuted.
Exceptions to the Criminal Statute of Limitations in Arizona
There are some exceptions that can extend the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor or felony offense. For example, if the defendant leaves the state, the time limit pauses for as long as they are absent, and the clock resumes once they return. For serious offenses like armed robbery and kidnapping, the time limit does not begin until the identity of the suspect is known.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Scottsdale, Arizona
If you’ve been charged with any type of crime in Arizona, you’ll need an experienced attorney on your side. The Van Norman Law team will work with you to build a strong defense and determine whether there are any statute of limitations issues that may affect your case. Give us a call at 480-481-0616 today to meet with an attorney for a free consultation.