What are Utah’s Criminal Statute Of Limitations?

Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

limitationsIf you are being investigated for an alleged criminal act in Utah, what is the time period in which the prosecutor must file criminal charges?  How long can the police investigate you without filing Utah criminal charges?  These allegations happened over two years ago, why has the prosecuting attorney not filed criminal charges against me?

Here is some basic information on Utah’s criminal statute of limitations.  The main Utah law is found in the Utah Code Annotated and the Utah criminal case law, or judge made law as announced in the Utah court opinions.  You can read the Utah Code at 76-1-301 to 306 for most of Utah’s criminal statute of limitations.   Utah’s legal court opinions can be found for free on www.utcourts.gov.  This article does not cover federal criminal charges and their respective criminal statute of limitations.  Federal charges are an entire different beast.

FIRST:  A state criminal statute of limitations is where the state government, city prosecutor, or county district attorney must file criminal charges with the court alleging that you committed a Utah crime.  If the prosecutor misses the criminal statute of limitations, the prosecuting attorney can never bring those criminal charges again.

With the below listed Utah criminal offenses, each Utah criminal offense has a specific time period where the prosecutor must file criminal charges or lose that ability to prosecute you for the alleged incidents.

CRIMINAL OFFENSES THAT MAY BE PROSECUTED AT ANY TIME:  Utah Code Ann. 76-1-301 (2017).

(a) capital felony;

(b) aggravated murder;

(c) murder;

(d) manslaughter;

(e) child abuse homicide;

(f) aggravated kidnapping;

(g) child kidnapping;

(h) rape;

(i) rape of a child;

(j) object rape;

(k) object rape of a child;

(l) forcible sodomy;

(m) sodomy on a child;

(n) sexual abuse of a child;

(o) aggravated sexual abuse of a child;

(p) aggravated sexual assault;

(q) any predicate offense to a murder or aggravating offense to an aggravated murder;

(r) aggravated human trafficking or aggravated human smuggling in violation of Section 76-5-310;

(s) aggravated exploitation of prostitution involving a child, under Section 76-10-1306.

The words “Aggravated” and Predicate have special meaning in Utah law and the statute defines them as follows:

“Aggravating offense” means any offense incident to which a homicide was committed as described in Subsection 76-5-202(1)(d) or (e) or Subsection 76-5-202(2).

“Predicate offense” means an offense described in Section 76-5-203(1) (2017) if a person other than a party as defined in Section 76-2-202 (2017) was killed in the course of the commission, attempted commission, or immediate flight from the commission or attempted commission of the offense.

Many Utah registrable sex offenses and most Utah homicide offenses can be prosecuted at any time.

CERTAIN PUBLIC CORRUPTION AND BRIBERY CHARGES—2 YEARS FROM REPORTING

A prosecution for misusing public money, falsification or alteration of government records, or for a bribery offense shall be commenced within two years after facts constituting the offense have been reported to a prosecutor having responsibility and jurisdiction to prosecute the offense.  See Utah Code Ann. 76-1-301.5 (2017) for more details.

UTAH FELONY STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS—4 YEARS WITH SOME SEX OFFENSE EXCEPTIONS.

The general rule is that a Felony prosecution must be commenced within four years after the alleged criminal Felony act is committed.  Negligent Homicide also must be prosecuted within the general four year Utah Felony statute of limitation.  This general Felony statute of limitations does not apply for:

(A).  forcible sexual abuse shall be commenced within eight years after the offense is committed, if within four years after its commission the offense is reported to a law enforcement agency; and

(B)  incest shall be commenced within eight years after the offense is committed, if within four years after its commission the offense is reported to a law enforcement agency;

UTAH MISDEMEANOR (NOT NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE) STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS—2 YEAR RULE

A Utah misdemeanor, other than negligent homicide, shall be commenced within two years after the alleged criminal act has been committed.  See Utah Code Ann 76-1-302 (2017).

UTAH INFRACTIONS STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS—1 YEAR

All Utah criminal infractions must be prosecuted within 1 year or the statute of limitations bars the public prosecution.   See Utah Code Ann. 76-1-302 (2017).

SUBSEQUENT DNA FINDINGS—STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

When an alleged crime occurs and a possible suspect is later identified by DNA evidence, there are specific Utah criminal statute of limitations applicable to these types of cases.  Any time you have a statute of limitations legal issue, you should consult an attorney to protect your legal interests.

PUBLIC OFFICE MISCONDUCT, BREACH OF DUTY, FRAUD STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Utah Code Ann. 76-1-303 (2017) details the specific time limitations for fraud, breach of fiduciary obligation, misconduct of a public officer or employee.   A careful read of this statute is required to determine the correct statute of limitation.

STOP/TOLLING OF UTAH CRIMINAL STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

The statute of limitation does not run against a person during any time period in which the accused defendant is out of the state following the commission of the offense.  See Utah Code Ann. 76-1-304 (2017) for the details.

WHO DETERMINES IF A UTAH CRIMINAL STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS HAS EXPIRED?

Normally, a jury of your peers decides all fact issues related to a criminal prosecuting.  Yet, a judge alone will decide whether any Utah criminal statute of limitation has expired.  The burden of proof is whether the statute of limitation has expired by a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt.

FINDING A UTAH CRIMINAL DEFENSE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS LAWYER

If you are being investigated by the police, the best thing you can do is not talk and hire an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney.  Investigating police are busy and the only reason they are talking to you is because you are a suspect or a possible lead.  Call an attorney and assert your constitutional right to remain silent.

Call Utah criminal defense attorney at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC for a free initial consultation.  (801) 373-6345.