Whether criminal charges have been filed on time is one of the first things an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney should find out as part of your aggressive defense strategy. Where the “statute of limitations” for a particular crime expires before formal charges are filed, you may be able to get those charges dismissed.
Most criminal offenses in Michigan, including burglary, assault and arson, are covered by a six-year statute of limitations, contained in MCL767.24. This means that if a prosecutor files charges after the limitations period has passed even by a day an experienced Michigan statute of limitations defense attorney may be able to get criminal charges dismissed as untimely.
At Grabel & Associates, we defend clients every day in criminal courts across Michigan and have seen first hand the impact failing to file charges on time can have on your case. By raising the statutes of limitations as a defense, we have been able to get numerous felony and misdemeanor criminal cases dismissed.
Many people get confused by the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations doesn’t prevent a prosecutor from filing charges against you. Instead, it is an affirmative defense. This means that if you are not formally served with charges within a certain amount of time, you may have a complete defense. However, it’s up to you (or your criminal defense trial attorney) to raise this defense. If you don't raise the defense, then the prosecutor can move forward with the charges.
Also, certain actions stop (in legal terms “toll”) the statute of limitations. For example, if you leave the state of Michigan, the period of time to bring a charge may be extended.
It’s important to be aware of some very significant exceptions that exist to the general six-year statute of limitations.
For Michigan’s most serious felonies, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct (rape), terrorism, murder and solicitation to commit murder, no statute of limitations exists. This means that charges may be brought years even decades after a crime has occurred. This may happen in certain “cold cases” where DNA evidence collected at a crime scene identifies a suspect years later, or a where a reluctant eyewitness provides critical testimony decades after a crime has been committed.
Further, the statute of limitations for bringing many sex crime charges is longer than six years. Under Michigan law, charges for certain sex crimes must be brought within 10 years of the crime or by the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later.
A 10-year statute of limitations also applies to crimes such as kidnapping, extortion, assault with intent to commit murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, or first-degree home invasion. Numerous other crimes (including misdemeanors, felonies and white-collar crimes) carry their own, unique statute of limitations, as determined by the Michigan legislature.
At Grabel & Associates, we understand that trying to figure out the statute of limitations for a particular crime may be complex. As a dedicated Michigan criminal defense law firm, it is our job to keep on top of the laws and exceptions concerning statutes of limitations for various crimes, and to know when we can use this defense to fight the charges filed against you. We have successfully raised the statute of limitations defense in courtrooms across Michigan including Detroit, Lansing and Ann Arbor and will use the statue of limitations as part of your vigorous defense.
For a free consultation to discuss how a Michigan criminal defense lawyer from Grabel & Associates can help you, call us toll-free at 1-800-342-7896, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or you can use the contact form on this website to Email our law firm.