Statute of Limitations Rules Analyzed By a Vegas Defense Lawyer in Nevada Under Chapter 171
Defendants who are charged with a criminal act should explore all possible options to get charges dismissed before their case proceeds to trial. One important consideration is the statute of limitations. If a prosecutor does not commence criminal proceedings prior to the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations, the prosecutor cannot proceed with the case and the defendant no longer faces the threat of charges.
At LV Criminal Defense, our Las Vegas criminal justice attorneys have an in-depth understanding of Nevada rules of criminal procedure, including the statute of limitations imposed for different criminal cases. We not only approach your case from the perspective of finding exculpatory evidence and casting doubt on the prosecutor’s evidence against you, but we are also focused on finding procedural reasons for evidence to be suppressed or a case to be dismissed. By taking a comprehensive approach to developing a legal defense strategy, we are often able to help our clients avoid conviction or reduce the possible consequences of serious criminal accusations. To learn more about how we can represent you and provide assistance with your case, give us a call today.
What are the Time Limits for Commencing Criminal Actions
Nevada law establishes different time limits for different types of criminal offenses. The rules for when charges must be brought are found in Nevada Revised Statutes Section 171.080 through 171.100. These code sections address:
- The statute of limitations for murder or terrorism. There is no limit imposed, and charges for these crimes can be brought at any time.
- The statute of limitations for sexual assault when a written report is filed with law enforcement. There is no limit on these types of crimes as long as a report has been filed.
- The statute of limitations for kidnapping and attempted murder, if a report is filed with law enforcement.
- The statute of limitations for felonies.
- The statute of limitations for gross misdemeanors and for simple misdemeanors.
- The statute of limitations for offenses committed in a secret manner.
- The statute of limitations for sexual abuse when the victim is a child.
- The effect of disability on the statute of limitations.
- When an indictment is found.
More serious crimes have longer statutes of limitations, or have no statute of limitations at all. The nature of the charges brought against you matters greatly, and an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer will help you to carefully review the law in order to determine when the prosecutor must indite you.
Defendants who are facing federal criminal charges will also be subject to different time limits for commencing action than those who are charged under Nevada state law.
What if the Statute of Limitations Has Passed on Your Alleged Crime?
If the statute of limitations has passed, you can no longer be tried for the criminal acts that you have allegedly committed. Your attorney can file a motion for the charges to be dismissed, if the prosecutor tries to bring charges despite the fact that the deadline has passed.
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The time clock for the limitation on the period in which charges can be filed generally begins running when the offense is allegedly committed. In some cases, such as with sexual assault, there is no time limit for pressing charges as long as a report is made within the statute of limitations.
Because the time clock begins running when the offense has been committed, it is important to determine when the criminal act has been completed. In some situations, this is a simple process. For example, the crime of murder ends when a person has been killed. In other situations, however, it can be more difficult to determine when the crime has actually been completed.
When an offense is ongoing, a prosecutor may try to argue that the crime was a continuing crime. When an offense is considered an ongoing crime, the statute of limitations is tolled until the last act in furtherance of the offense has been completed. This legal doctrine can provide significantly more time for prosecutors to pursue cases against defendants, and it can often result in defendants facing multiple charges for an alleged pattern of criminal conduct.
Although the continuing offense doctrine is a powerful tool used by prosecutors, there are significant limitations on the offenses that may be considered continuing. In Toussie v. United States, the Supreme Court held that an offense is a continuing one only if the language of the criminal statute compels the conclusion that the offense should be considered a continuing crime, or only if the nature of the crime involved is such that Congress intended it be treated as a continuing offense.
One example of an ongoing offense occurs when a defendant is accused of federal tax evasion. The process of hiding income and submitting false returns is often an extended process, so a determination must be made regarding when the statute of limitations begins to run. In Sansone v. United States, the court held the crime is completed “as soon as the false and fraudulent understatement of taxes… was filed.”
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Courts have been asked to rule on many offenses to determine when the crime has been completed, and your attorney can help you to understand what the rules are for your particular offense.
How Can Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers Help You
There are multiple reasons that rules exist to set a time limit for commencing criminal actions. Individuals should not be forced to live their lives under the continuous threat of criminal prosecution for offenses committed a long time ago. People deserve the right to move on with their lives without fear of law enforcement approaching them years later.
The ability to make a case when years have passed is also a key factor. Witnesses disappear, evidence is lost, and memories fade as time passes. It would not be fair for a defendant to face charges for crimes that happened decades ago when the defendant may no longer be able to conduct an investigation and find exculpatory evidence.
At LV Criminal Defense, we will help to make sure you do not face prosecution for any crime if an argument can be made that the time limit for action has passed. Call today to schedule a consultation to learn more.