Most of the time a person is arrested very shortly after they commit a crime. That person is charged with a crime, they hire a lawyer and begin defending their case. In some cases, the justice system doesn’t work so quickly. There are many reasons that a person wouldn’t get charged as described above. Law enforcement may not discover that the crime has been committed; some evidence of the crime may be missing or waiting to come back from a criminalistics lab; the district attorney’s office may not be able to process the paperwork quickly enough. In short, sometimes a person that has committed a crime or was accused of committing a crime may find themselves asking, “How long do they have to charge me with a crime?”

A person asking that question generally falls into one of three categories.

  1. You have been arrested for a crime and are sitting in custody waiting on the prosecutor’s office to charge you with a crime so that you can make bond and get out of custody.
  2. You have been arrested and you were released from custody pending charges and you want to know how long you are going to have to wait before your case will be filed or if it will be filed at all.
  3. You were never arrested but you either committed a crime or stand accused of committing a crime and you want to know how long before you are, “in the clear.”

To answer this question, you need to look at the law and know in general what crime you may be charged with. For most crimes, the state loses the power to charge you with a crime 5 years after the crime is committed. Like most other facets of the law there are exceptions, here are a few.

If the crime committed was rape there is no statute of limitations.

If the crime committed was aggravated criminal sodomy there is no statute of limitations.

If the crime committed was murder there is no statute of limitations.

If the crime committed was terrorism or illegal use of weapons of mass destruction there is not statute of limitations.

If the victim of the crime is the Kansas Public Employees retirement system the state has 10 years to charge the crime.

If the crime is a sexually defined crime in K.S.A. 22-3717 and

The victim is 18 years or younger the crime must be charged within 10 years of the victim becoming 18 or one year from the date the identity of the suspect is conclusively established by DNA testing, whichever is later.The period within which a prosecution shall be commenced shall not include any period in which:

  1. The accused is absent from the state;
  2. The accused is concealed within the state so that process cannot be served upon the accused;
  3. The fact of the crime is concealed;
  4. A prosecution is pending against the defendant for the same conduct, even if the indictment or information which commences the prosecution is quashed or the proceedings thereon are set aside, or are reversed on appeal;
  5. An administrative agency is restrained by court order from investigating or otherwise proceeding on a matter before it as to any criminal conduct defined as a violation of any of the provisions of article 41 of chapter 25 and article 2 of chapter 46 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated, and amendments thereto, which may be discovered as a result thereof regardless of who obtains the order of restraint; or
  6. Whether the fact of the crime is concealed by the active act or conduct of the accused, there is substantially competent evidence to believe two or more of the following factors are present:
    1. The victim was a child under 15 years of age at the time of the crime;
    2. The victim was of such age or intelligence that the victim was unable to determine that the acts constituted a crime;
    3. The victim was prevented by a parent or other legal authority from making known to law enforcement authorities the fact of the crime whether or not the parent or other legal authority is the accused; and
    4. There is substantially competent expert testimony indicating the victim psychologically repressed such witness’ memory of the fact of the crime, and in the expert’s professional opinion the recall of such memory is accurate and free of undue manipulation, and substantial corroborating evidence can be produced in support of the allegations contained in the complaint or information but in no event may a prosecution be commenced as provided in subsection (e)(6) later than the date the victim turns 28 years of age. Corroborating evidence may include, but is not limited to, evidence the defendant committed similar acts against other persons or evidence of contemporaneous physical manifestations of the crime.

For the purpose of the criminal statute of limitations:

When Is An Offense Committed?

An offense is committed either when every element occurs, or, if a legislative purpose to prohibit a continuing offense plainly appears, at the time when the course of conduct or the defendant’s complicity therein is terminated. Time starts to run on the day after the offense is committed.

When Is A Prosecution Commenced?

A prosecution is commenced when a complaint or information is filed, or an indictment returned, and a warrant thereon is delivered to the sheriff or other officer for execution. No such prosecution shall be deemed to have been commenced if the warrant so issued is not executed without unreasonable delay.