Did you recently commit what you believe to be a criminal offense, however, as of yet have not been arrested, or even questioned regarding the crime? You might think you got away with committing the crime – or you might be losing sleep wondering if you really did get away with it. At what point can you breathe normally again and stop waiting for the police to come banging on your door? A Nebraska criminal defense lawyer explains the statute of limitations for criminal offenses which can help answer that question.
Waiting Is the Hardest Part
While the police do arrest some suspects at the scene of the crime, or shortly thereafter, most arrests are only made after a thorough investigation by law enforcement. The more serious the crime, the more likely it is that the police will conduct a lengthy investigation before making an arrest. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, major crimes tend to be committed by more serious criminals and only after planning the crime. That plan usually contemplates an escape route or includes the taking of measures to avoid being caught. The other primary reason a lengthy investigation prior to an arrest is more likely when a serious crime is involved is that the police and prosecutor don’t want to make a costly mistake. If you committed the crime in question, waiting to find out if the police figure out who committed the crime can be nerve-racking.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
If you have been looking over your shoulder waiting for the police to arrest you, the good news is that there is likely a point at which you can stop waiting, worrying, and looking. All states, including the State of Nebraska, have criminal statutes of limitation that limit the time period within which the state must initiate the prosecution of a criminal offense. If the State fails to initiate the prosecution of the crime within the applicable statute of limitation time period, and no exception applies, the State is forever barred from prosecuting the suspect. Keep in mind that the State is not required to conclude the prosecution of the case within the applicable time period, only commence the prosecution of the case.
Nebraska Statutes of Limitation
In the State of Nebraska, Nebraska Revised Statute 29-110 et seq. governs criminal statutes of limitations. In general, the applicable statutes of limitations are as follows:
- Misdemeanors –misdemeanor prosecutions must commence within 18 months after the offense was committed except, if the offense carries a fine or not more than $100 and a period of incarceration not to exceed three months, the statute of limitations is 12 months.
- Felonies – prosecution for most felony offenses must commence within three years of the commission of the offense. Some exceptions include:
- Violations of the Securities Act of Nebraska, criminal impersonation, identity theft, or identity fraud must be commenced within five years.
- Knowing and intentional abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult or senior adult must be commenced within six years.
- Treason, murder, arson, forgery, sexual assault in the first or second degree, sexual assault of a child in the second or third degree, incest, or sexual assault of a child in the first degree, sexual assault in the third degree when the victim is under sixteen years of age at the time of the offense there is no statute of limitations.
- Common Exceptions – as a general rule, the statute of limitation time frame begins when the crime is committed. There are some common exceptions to that general rule, including:
- Age of victim – for certain crimes that involve a victim under the age of 16, the prosecution of the offense must begin within seven years next after the offense has been committed or within seven years next after the victim’s sixteenth birthday, whichever is later.
- Flight – the applicable statute of limitations is tolled during any period of time during which the party charged was fleeing from justice.
Contact a Nebraska Criminal Defense Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, do not hesitate to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.