The statute of limitations is a law that requires suspected criminals to be charged and tried within a certain time span. The statute of limitations is in place for a number of reasons, but the most common reason is the deterioration of evidence that occurs over time. Below are three things that it's important to understand about the statute of limitations.

1. Not All Crimes Fall Under the Statute of Limitations

While each state has their own guidelines regarding the statute of limitations for different crimes, there are a few crimes that aren't covered by the statute of limitations at all.

Murder, for example, is the only crime throughout all 50 states that does not have a statute of limitation. This means that a murderer can be tried and convicted, assuming that sufficient evidence is available, for as long as the murderer is alive. Other crimes, such as sexual offenses against children or other forms of abuse towards minors, may have a statute of limitation placed on them depending on where the crime occurred and where the offender currently resides.

2. There are Certain Circumstances That Can Extend the Statue of Limitations

If you committed an offense and believe that you can no longer be convicted because your state's specified time has passed, you may be in for a surprise.

If you leave the state, for example, many states will not count the time you've been absent as falling under the statute of limitations. For example, if you commit a crime with a 7-year statute of limitations, but you leave the state after 3 years, the clock will "stop" and only restart once you return to the state in which the crime was committed. Other circumstances in which the statute of limitations can be extended include mental incompetence, a victim under the age of 18, and delayed harm (for example, if someone is harmed during a robbery but symptoms of that injury aren't apparent until later, time on the statute of limitations may not begin until the time when harm was discovered).

3. You Can Be Charged After the Statute of Limitations Has Run Out

You may think that after the statute of limitations has run out on your crime that you're safe from criminal charges. While this is true for the most part, it is possible to be charged with a crime even after the statute of limitations has expired. So, how can you prevent this from occurring? 

First and foremost, it's vital that you understand your rights and know exactly when the statute of limitations on your crime was set to end. With this information in hand, it's entirely possible to get the charges dismissed. Second, it's important to work with a criminal defense attorney who has extensive knowledge of the statute of limitations for your particular crime. With the help of such an attorney, you can be sure to get the most up-to-date information available and increase your odds of a case dismissal.

If you're facing a criminal trial, or you have questions regarding the statute of limitations in your state, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Visit to learn more.