Can You Be Charged with a Crime Years Later in New Jersey?

If you’ve been accused of committing a crime, you may wonder how long the state has to file charges against you. The state may not be able to file charges after a certain period of time, depending on the specific circumstances of the crime. This is because some crimes have a statute of limitations, which sets a time limit for the state to file charges against an offender. However, not all crimes are subject to a statute of limitations. Some indictable crimes have no statute of limitations, meaning they can be filed anytime. Please continue reading to learn what crimes don’t have a statute of limitations in New Jersey and how a determined Bergen County Criminal Defense Attorney can help protect your rights. 

What is a Statute of Limitations?

Like other states, New Jersey law sets forth a specific period within which the state can commence a case for a crime. This is known as the statute of limitations. This concept exists for both civil and criminal law. In civil law, the statute of limitation refers to the point at which someone can no longer pursue legal action against another party. However, that statute of limitations in criminal law refers to the deadline for filing charges for a specific crime. The charges may be dismissed if the state tries to prosecute a person after the applicable time period.

Are There Crimes With No Time Limit in New Jersey?

In most states, major and minor crimes are categorized into felonies and misdemeanors. However, New Jersey crimes are classified as disorderly person offenses (equates to a misdemeanor offense in different states) and indictable offenses (equates to a felony offense in other states). Generally, disorderly persons offenses are met with a statute of limitation of one year. This means the state has exactly one year to prosecute an offender for an alleged crime, or it cannot be filed.

Nevertheless, some indictable crimes in New Jersey don’t have a statute of limitations. This means that the state can prosecute an offender for a crime whenever they should choose, even if it’s decades later. The clock doesn’t stop, so if new evidence arises years later, the state can file charges no matter how long ago the charges were allegedly committed. In New Jersey, indictable crimes that have no time limit include:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Sexual assault (there isn’t a time limit for most sexual offenses)
  • Causing or risking widespread injury

If you’ve been accused of a crime, it’s in your best interest to enlist the help of a proficient Bergen County criminal defense attorney, who can advocate on your behalf for the case to be dismissed if it’s past the statute of limitations. Allow our firm to represent your interests to maximize your chances of achieving the best possible outcome for your case.