Under the law, the statute of limitations prohibits prosecutors from charging someone for a crime they allegedly committed more than a specified number of years ago. Criminal statute of limitations ensure that criminal trials are based on the most reliable evidence available considering evidence can deteriorate with the passage of time. Witness testimony can get fuzzy and physical evidence can degrade, so the putting reasonable limitations in place balances prosecuting serious crimes with the interest of fair and accurate prosecution.
When the statutory period runs out, there can be no prosecution for alleged criminal activity. However, it is important to note that some statutes of limitations can be temporarily suspended – paused – if someone suspected of committing a crime goes into hiding or even out of state. It is also important to note that statutes vary and many states, including Wisconsin, have different tiers of felonies with different statutes of limitations. For example, in Wisconsin, there is no statute of limitation for intentional or reckless homicide or murder, whereas prosecution for most other felonies is 6 years. Misdemeanors such as vandalism or petty theft are often capped at three years under Wisconsin statute of limitation laws. If you are under investigation for a crime, it is important to know how the Wisconsin statute of limitations law applies in your situation – contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for help.
The passing of the statute of limitations may come as a huge relief for those suspected or accused of crime, but it is not good idea to simply wait things out hoping a problem will go away. If you or a family member is an accessory to a crime (even after the fact), are being questioned or investigated for a crime (whether you are involved or not), or have been charged with a crime, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the Waukesha Law Offices of Andrew C. Ladd for a free consultation at 262-542-3900.