What Is the Statute of Limitation for Criminal Offenses in NJ?

  • Criminal Defense

Well, most people know that you cannot be charged in New Jersey for a crime that happened over 30 years ago. But still, many don’t understand why this is. You may or may not have heard about “Statute of Limitations” but don’t really know what the term means.

New Jersey has a statute of limitations for the prosecution of crimes. Prosecution of an offense begins when an indictment is issued. If you or a loved one is in this situation, you shouldn’t go into it alone but seek the help of a New Jersey defense law firm for the best outcome.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

Simply put, a statute of limitations is the period for which prosecution of a crime must be commenced. The statute of limitations sets a deadline on when to prosecute or prevents the prosecution of a crime after a certain period has passed.

If the time allocated for the prosecution of that specific crime passes without prosecution, the individual responsible for the offense cannot be charged. However, some aspects of the statute of limitations are sometimes difficult to understand. For instance, some crimes don’t have a statute of limitations based on the severity of the offense. That’s why you need a knowledgeable New Jersey criminal law attorney for legal advice.

What’s the Statute of Limitations for a Disorderly Person’s Charge, Traffic Violations, and Indictable Crimes?

The statute of limitations of a crime in New Jersey is generally five years. So, it’s difficult for the state to bring charges against you for an alleged offense that happened over five years ago. But the statute of limitations can be adjusted based on the offense. Here are some limits for specific crimes:

What’s the Statute of Limitations for Other Crimes in NJ

Disorderly persons

A person accused of this charge must be prosecuted within one year after committing the offense.

Misconduct and Bribery

Official misconduct, bribing a witness, bribery in official and political matters, and a conspiracy to commit all these offenses have a seven-year limit.

Motor Vehicle Violations

Here are the statutes of limitation for motor vehicle violations

  • Six months for driving without liability insurance
  • One year for leaving the scene of an accident
  • 90 days for driving while intoxicated
  • One year for violations related to driver’s licenses and vehicle registration

Offenses Likely to Cause Harm

For crimes where a person intentionally causes an avalanche, a building to collapse, an explosion, flood, release of poison gas or radioactive material, or anything harmful, the statute of limitation is ten years.

Are There Crimes Without a Statute of Limitations?

Some sensitive cases don’t have a limitation to prosecute. These include:

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault in New Jersey involves any sexual act of penetration with another person. Sexual assault could be forcible rape, statutory rape, abuse of power, gang rape, and rape while committing another crime. These don’t have a statute of limitations and charges can be brought at any time.

Environmental Offenses

Violation of:

  • Air pollution control act;
  • Water pollution control act;
  • Enforcement of the asbestos act, and
  • Solid waste and medical waste disposal don’t have a time limit for prosecution.
  • Murder and manslaughter also don’t have a time limit for prosecution.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?

The clock starts to run the day the offense is committed. But if the prosecution later obtains physical evidence against the defendant that identifies him/her, the time will start running when this evidence is obtained.

Can the Statute of Limitations Be Stalled?

Under the New Jersey law, the statute of limitation can be suspended/stalled/frozen/tolled in some circumstances. Mostly, this happens if an accused person flees and hides from the police. The time will continue to run when the defendant is caught.

Similarly, the statute of limitations will be frozen if the defendant faces prosecution of the same charge elsewhere within the charge. So, the time for the second charge will temporarily be stopped until the first charge is resolved.

Can I Use the Statute of Limitations as a Defense?

If you are facing a criminal charge in New Jersey, a statute of limitations is always a good defense strategy. If the prosecution attempts to bring charges against you after the statute of limitation has elapsed, you may have reasonable grounds to avoid a conviction.

If the time limits allowed to prosecute the offense truly ran out, a skilled New Jersey criminal law attorney can help you get the charges dismissed. However, the crucial part is figuring out whether the statute of limitations was stalled and for how long. Therefore, you will need professional legal counsel to help you figure this out and offer you the best advice in such a situation.

When Do I Need to Speak to a Lawyer?

Understanding how statute limitations work can be confusing, especially if multiple offenses are involved. If you believe the statute of limitation may stop the indictment or criminal complaint, you need to talk to a skilled defense lawyer near you.

If you also want to know whether the statute of limitations affects your case, get in touch with a lawyer immediately.

Learn Your Legal Options From Experienced Defense Lawyers in New Jersey

The legal process is often complicated and confusing. Still, you shouldn’t allow a violation of your rights. Convictions are often severe and often leave defendants with permanent criminal records. That’s why you need a legal representative to help you understand what you are up against and what to do to protect your rights and safeguard your freedom and reputation.

Our criminal defense law firm is ready to help if you feel your charge is outside the statute of limitations. Our New Jersey criminal defense lawyer is prepared to listen to you and use the law to your advantage. Get in touch with us to discuss the details of your case.

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