If you are faced with a criminal charge and are waiting to appear in court, it is likely that you are also waiting for the state to file charges. Just like personal injury cases have a statute of limitations for plaintiffs to file lawsuits against at fault parties in civil cases, criminal cases have time limits that the prosecutor must adhere to should they want to pursue charges against a defendant. In the event that the charges have not been filed against you in time, you will not and cannot be prosecuted for those charges. When the time comes for you to appear in court, should there be no charges filed, this does not mean that you are free of charge. The date that the courts assign you is not a deadline, but prosecutors typically try to review the evidence and case prior to the court date to prevent dragging out a case.
There are a few factors that are to be considered should you or someone you know has been arrested and has a court date but are unsure if charges have officially been charged. These factors include:
- Just so long as charges against a defendant are filed before the statute of limitations your case may still be open with the state and you can potentially face jail time and/or consequences for the criminal charges filed against you.
- When arrested, if no charges have officially been filed, by law you are to be released after a specific amount of days. Laws vary from state to state, and this does not mean that the charges cannot be filed against you at a later time.
The statute of limitations are different depending on the classification of the charges. Misdemeanors must be filed by the prosecution at least a year following the date of the incident. A felony, which is a larger offense and carries a more excessive punishment, allows up to three years for the prosecution to file charges. Much like the time difference with a felony and misdemeanor, there are some exceptions to the rule. There are offenses that are far too extreme to allow any time limit, such as murder and other serious offenses like sex crimes. You must speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney to get a better understanding of what criminal offenses carry what statute of limitations.
Should you or someone you know be awaiting for charges to be filed against them, speak with a criminal defense attorney, such as from The Lynch Law Group, to learn why your charges are still pending and what legal options you may have in the meantime.