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Statute of Limitations for Criminal Offenses in Utah

In Utah, there are strict time limits for state and city prosecutors to bring criminal charges against an individual.  These time frames are known as “statute of limitations” and once limitations period runs that is it – charges cannot be brought thereafter.  The following state of limitations apply:

  • Generally speaking, a felony must be brought within four (4) years;
  • Negligent homicide charges must be brought within four (4) years;
  • forcible sexual abuse charges must be brought within eight (8) years after the offense is committed, so long as it is reported within four (4) years after the abuse was committed.  This same standard applies to charges for incest;
  • Misdemeanor charges, other than negligent homicide charges, have to be brought by the city or state attorney within two (2) years;
  • Infraction charges (speeding tickets, other traffic offenses, disorderly conduct, and other offenses) have to be brought within one (1) year after it is committed;
  • The following offenses can be commenced at any time if the identity of the person who committed the crime is unknown at the time it is committed but DNA evidence later reveals who it is, but it must be brought within one (1) year of the discovering the identity of the perpetrator through DNA evidence: aggravated arson, arson, knowingly causing a catastrophe, criminal mischief, assault by prisoner, disarming a police officer, aggravated assault, aggravated assault by prisoner, mayhem, stalking, threat of terrorism, child abuse, commission of domestic violence in the presence of a child, abuse or neglect of a child with a disability, abuse, neglect, exploitation of a vulnerable adult, endangerment of a child or vulnerable adult, criminal homicide offenses kidnapping, child kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping rape, rape of a child, object rape, object rape of a child, forcible sodomy, sodomy on a child, forcible sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse of a child or sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual assault, sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual exploitation of a vulnerable adult, aggravated burglary and burglary of a dwelling aggravated robbery and robbery;
  • Additionally, charges for the following offenses can be brought at any time:  capital felony, aggravated murder, murder, manslaughter, child abuse homicide, aggravated kidnapping, child kidnapping, rape, rape of a child, object rape, object rape of a child, forcible sodomy, sodomy on a child, sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual assault, and any predicate offense to a murder or aggravating offense to an aggravated murder.

A defense based on the applicable statute of limitations does not occur very often.  Our law firm recently won such a defense, however, and successfully got sex crime charges dismissed because the prosecutor had filed the case a few days late.  Our lawyers thoroughly review statute of limitations issues for every case we have because you never know when it will result in a dismissal.