Several cases have come into our Bryan-College Station criminal defense office recently in which the statute of limitations (SOL) was a big question for the client. An expunction case, for instance, might not be ripe for filing until the SOL has expired. Potential clients often ask why the prosecutors took so long to indict them and whether the delay can help their defense.
In general, the Texas limitations period is the time within which the government may file criminal charges against a person. The SOL for felonies is different than that for misdemeanors. Furthermore, there are circumstances when the limitations period is not running . . . like when the accused person is absent from the state . . . or after a person is indicted and the indictment is pending. In Texas, the statute of limitations is governed by Article 12.01 et seq. of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Following are some examples of limitations periods for common criminal charges in Texas.
There are no statutes of limitation for murder, manslaughter, and certain sexual crimes involving children. The limitations period is ten (10) years for certain theft cases involving real estate, theft by a public servant, forgery, injury to elderly or disabled persons, and sexual assaults not involving children.
For misapplication of fiduciary property, securing the execution of government documents by fraud, and identity theft the SOL is seven (7) years. For other theft charges, robbery, kidnapping, and burglary the limitations period is five (5) years. For all other felonies the SOL is three (3) years and for any misdemeanor the limitations period is two (2) years.Finally, the day on which the offense was committed and the day on which an indictment or information was presented is excluded from the computation of time.