New York’s Criminal Statute of Limitations
In New York, for most criminal offenses, the statute of limitations are listed in section 30.10 of Criminal Procedure (“Crim. Proc.”) portion of the New York Code. Some offenses such as rape and murder have no statute or limitations. Most felony offenses have a five year statute of limitations period. Misdemeanor offenses have a two year statute of limitation period, while petty offenses generally have a one year statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations generally forbid the prosecution from charging a person with a crime when the criminal prosecution is not commenced within a certain period of time. The purpose of the statute of limitation is to make sure that convictions are based on reliable evidence. Over time, memories tend to fade and important evidence can be lost which would prove a great prejudice to the person accused and likely result in a wrongful conviction.
New York’s Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) § 30.10 was last amended on April 30, 2014. CPL § 30.10 sets for specific time periods for the timeliness of prosecutions and periods during which those prosecutors are generally limited. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Law Office of Stephanie Selloni to discuss how the rules of criminal procedure apply to the unique facts of your case. We work with clients to assert all defenses in their case including the right to a speedy trial and the statute of limitations when applicable.
Statute of Limitations vs. Speedy Trial
Delays by law enforcement and the prosecutors before the criminal action is commenced is governed by the statute of limitations. On the other hand, delays by the prosecution after the criminal action is commenced is governed by the statutory and constitutional right to a speedy trial. See U.S. Const. amend. VI; and CPL Section 30.20, 30.30.
No Time Limits or Statute of Limitations for Certain Types of NY Crimes
Generally, a criminal action must be commenced within the period of limitation prescribed in the ensuing subdivisions of this section. For certain types of offenses listed in CPL § 30.10(2)(a), however, the prosecution may be commenced at any time without any statute of limitation issue. Those offenses including:
- any class A felony, or
- rape in the first degree as defined in section 130.35 of the penal law, or
- a crime defined or formerly defined in section 130.50 of the penal law, or
- aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree as defined in section 130.70 of the penal law, or
- course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree as defined in section 130.75 of the penal law may be commenced at any time.
Statute of Limitation for a Felony under NY Law
For other types of felony offenses not listed in § 30.10(2)(a), the statute of limitation requires that the “prosecution for any other felony must be commenced within five years after the commission thereof…” See § 30.10(2)(b).
Statute of Limitations for a Misdemeanor under NY Law
Under New York law, CPL § 30.10(2)(a), a “prosecution for a misdemeanor must be commenced within two years after the commission thereof.”
Statute of Limitations for a Petty Offense under NY Law
New York’s Criminal Procedure Law § 30.10(2)(d) provides that a “prosecution for a petty offense must be commenced within one year after the commission thereof.”
Periods Not Included in New York’s Statute of Limitations
CPL Section 30.10(4) provides that when calculating the time limitation applicable to commencement of a criminal action, the following periods shall not be included:
(a) Any period following the commission of the offense during which (i) the defendant was continuously outside this state or (ii) the whereabouts of the defendant were continuously unknown and continuously unascertainable by the exercise of reasonable diligence. However, in no event shall the period of limitation be extended by more than five years beyond the period otherwise applicable under subdivision two.
(b) When a prosecution for an offense is lawfully commenced within the prescribed period of limitation therefor, and when an accusatory instrument upon which such prosecution is based is subsequently dismissed by an authorized court under directions or circumstances permitting the lodging of another charge for the same offense or an offense based on the same conduct, the period extending from the commencement of the thus defeated prosecution to the dismissal of the accusatory instrument does not constitute a part of the period of limitation applicable to commencement of prosecution by a new charge.
Extending the Statute of Limitations for Certain Types fo Crimes in New York
Criminal Procedure Law § 30.10(3) provides that “[n}otwithstanding the provisions of subdivision two, the periods of limitation for the commencement of criminal actions are extended as follows in the indicated circumstances:
Larceny in Violation of a Fiduciary Duty – Statute of Limitations
(a) A prosecution for larceny committed by a person in violation of a fiduciary duty may be commenced within one year after the facts constituting such offense are discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered by the aggrieved party or by a person under a legal duty to represent him who is not himself implicated in the commission of the offense.
Misconduct in Public Office -Statute of Limitations
(b) A prosecution for any offense involving misconduct in public office by a public servant including, without limitation, an offense defined in article four hundred ninety-six of the penal law, may be commenced against a public servant, or any other person acting in concert with such public servant at any time during such public servant’s service in such office or within five years after the termination of such service; provided however, that in no event shall the period of limitation be extended by more than five years beyond the period otherwise applicable under subdivision two of this section.
Environmental Conservation Laws – Statute of Limitations
(c) A prosecution for any crime set forth in title twenty-seven or1 article seventy-one of the environmental conservation law may be commenced within four years after the facts constituting such crime are discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered by a public servant who has the responsibility to enforce the provisions of said title and article.
Tax Code Misdemeanors – Statute of Limitations
(d) A prosecution for any misdemeanor set forth in the tax law or chapter forty-six of the administrative code of the city of New York must be commenced within three years after the commission thereof.
Sexual Conduct Against a Child in the Second Degree – Statute of Limitations
(e) A prosecution for course of sexual conduct against a child in the second degree as defined in section 130.80 of the penal law may be commenced within five years of the commission of the most recent act of sexual conduct.
Sexual Offenses Against a Child – Statute of Limitations
(f) For purposes of a prosecution involving a sexual offense as defined in article one hundred thirty of the penal law, other than a sexual offense delineated in paragraph (a) of subdivision two of this section, committed against a child less than eighteen years of age, incest in the first, second or third degree as defined in sections 255.27, 255.26 and 255.25 of the penal law committed against a child less than eighteen years of age, or use of a child in a sexual performance as defined in section 263.05 of the penal law, the period of limitation shall not begin to run until the child has reached the age of eighteen or the offense is reported to a law enforcement agency or statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment, whichever occurs earlier.
Terrorism – Statute of Limitations
(g) A prosecution for any felony defined in article four hundred ninety of the penal law must be commenced within eight years after the commission thereof provided, however, that in a prosecution for a felony defined in article four hundred ninety of the penal law, if the commission of such felony offense resulted in, or created a foreseeable risk of, death or serious physical injury to another person, the prosecution may be commenced at any time; provided, however, that nothing in this paragraph shall be deemed to shorten or otherwise lessen the period, defined in any other applicable law, in which a prosecution for a felony designated in this paragraph may be commenced.
Finding Additional Information on the Statute of Limitations in Criminal Cases
Stephanie Selloni is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Nassau County. With offices in Garden City, NY, she represents clients on a variety of felony and misdemeanor charges throughout the county. Her focus on criminal defense allows her to stay current on recent changes in the law that impact the criminal justice system and criminal procedures.