Indiana’s Criminal Statute of Limitations

When a crime has been committed, there is a set time limit on pressing charges. The time limit varies between states, but most all have one. This is called the “statute of limitations.”

Indiana has their own statute of limitations rules, which residents should be aware of. Whether you have committed an offense or had one committed against you, this can affect your life. You may need to act soon if you believe you may be charged with a criminal offense.

Why Do Criminal Charges Have a Statute of Limitations?

To put it simply, memories fade over time. No matter the situation, the further away one gets from an event, the less one remembers of it. While important details may always stay clear, the circumstances surrounding it become a more distant memory as time goes on.

A criminal accusation is a very serious thing, and anyone accused of a crime has the right to defend themself. That includes not only their testimony but that of witnesses, as well as other evidence gathered. Without a statute of limitations, it would be challenging to gather that evidence and get accurate testimony.

Statutes of Limitations for Felonies and Misdemeanors in Indiana

While there are usually similarities, every state has its own statute of limitations rules. Indiana is no exception, with a different time limit for various crimes. Civil cases are also going to have different rules than criminal ones, though almost any legal matter is going to come with a statute of limitations regardless.

The two main categories for criminal offenses are felonies and misdemeanors. This also accounts for the statutes on reporting these crimes. While one is more severe than the other, the rules surrounding them are still strictly enforced.

It should be noted that in some situations, the statute of limitations may be paused. If the accused has moved out of state, concealed evidence, or held public office, the time limit will be extended until these situations are resolved. Because of this, you may need to keep track of the specifics of your criminal charge timeline.

Felony Time Limits

A felony is a more severe crime, one that usually involves violence and carries a prison sentence. Murder, arson, and robbery all count as felonies, though there are many others. With enough repeat offenses, even some misdemeanors can become felonies.

As these offenses are more serious, more time is afforded for them. Indiana allows a five-year statute of limitations for felonies, with a few exceptions. For example, there is no limit on murder charges.

Misdemeanor Deadlines

A misdemeanor is a less serious crime than a felony, usually carrying a far less severe punishment. Trespassing, shoplifting, and driving under the influence (DUI) are examples of misdemeanors. These are mostly handled with fines, license suspension, or short stints in jail.

Indiana allows only a two-year deadline for misdemeanors, regardless of what the particular crime is. A misdemeanor arrest warrant expires 180 days after it has been posted, as well. Victims of a misdemeanor will need to work fast if they intend to pursue legal action.

Civil vs. Criminal Statutes of Limitations

A criminal case is one in which a local, state, or federal law has been broken. A civil case, however, is just a legal dispute between two or more parties. While someone breaking into your home to rob you is criminal, someone damaging your car would be civil.

Both of these matters still fall under a statute of limitations. If a resident of Indiana wishes to pursue legal damages from another party, they have two years to file the claim. While this is similar to a misdemeanor, there are still a few exceptions and rules to differentiate them.