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Federal Statute of Limitations

Posted by Seth Chazin | Apr 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

The statute of limitations is the time limit a victim of a crime has for filing charges against the defendant. The general rule for the statute of limitations for felonies is that the government can no longer file criminal charges for an offense once 5 years has passed from the time the alleged crime was committed. The federal statute of limitations is 18 USC 3282 .

The reason why there is a statute of limitations is to keep defendants from having to defend a case from charges that occurred so long ago, making it impossible to properly defend one's case and prove innocence. . In many of these cases, evidence may no longer be available. . It would violate the defendant's right to receive due process under the law and the right to receive a fair trial if a prosecution was to take place under those conditions

The argument that the statute of limitations has run is a defense against a criminal charge, yet if it is not presented before a trial begins, the defendant likely has waived their right to use this as a defense. The statute of limitation does have exceptions. Federal law says that the general 5-year statute of limitations applies in every case unless there is a specific code section that extends the statute of limitations for that particular offense.

For a more extensive description of the federal statute of limitations, visit my article: Federal Statute of Limitations.

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 30 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson