Statute of Limitations in Criminal Prosecutions

posted by Scott Michels on Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The statute of limitations is the time frame from which a crime has been committed to when the State must file the trial information against the accused.  If the trial information has not been filed within the statute of limitations the case must be dismissed.  The statute of limitations for simple misdemeanors is 1 year from the date of commission of the offense.  The statute of limitations for most felonies and indictable misdemeanors is 3 years; however, there are a few exceptions. 
  • Murder has no statute of limitations. 
  • Sex abuse cases against a person under the age of 18, have a statue that extends to 10 years after the victim turns 18, or if the accused is identified by the use of DNA, then within 3 years after the identification, whichever is later. 
  • Sex abuse cases against an adult have a 10-year statute from the date of the incident, or within 3 years of identification by DNA, whichever is later.    There is also an exception for the time when an accused has left the state and is no longer a resident.
  • Incest against a person under 18 must be filed within 10 years of the victim attaining age 18.
  • Incest against an adult must be filed within 10 years of the commission of the offense.
  • Sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee committed against a person under the age of 18 must be filed within 10 years of the victim attaining age 18.
  • Sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee committed against an adult must be filed within 10 years of the date the victim was last treated by the counselor or therapist, or within 10 years of the date the victim was last enrolled in or attended the school.
  • The trial information for the following offenses committed against or with a person under 18 must be found within 10 years of the victim attaining age 18, or within 3 years if the of the identification of the accused by DNA, whichever is later:
    • Lascivious acts (Iowa Code section 709.8);
    • Assault with intent to commit sexual abuse (Iowa Code section 709.11);
    • Indecent contact with a minor (Iowa Code section 709.12);
    • Lascivious conduct with a minor (Iowa Code section 709.14);
    • Sexual misconduct with a juvenile (Iowa Code section 709.16(2));
    • Child endangerment (Iowa Code section 726.6, subsection 4,5, or 6);
    • Sexual exploitation of a minor (Iowa Code section 728.12).
  • Kidnapping committed against or with a person under 18 must be found within 10 years of the victim attaining age 18, or within 3 years if the of the identification of the accused by DNA, whichever is later.
  • Human trafficking committed against or with a person under 18 must be found within 10 years of the victim attaining age 18, or within 3 years if the of the identification of the accused by DNA, whichever is later.
In cases where a material element of the offense is either fraud or breach of fiduciary obligation the prosecution may commence within 1 year of the discovery of the offense but cannot extend the original statute of limitations by more than 3 years.
 

Extensions of Statute of Limitations

If an accused person leaves the state, the statute of limitations does not include the time the person was not publicly a resident within the state.  Additionally, if an offense is based upon a series of acts committed at different times, the statute of limitations begins upon the commission of the last act.
If the accused is a public officer or public employee and the offense arises from misconduct relating to the duties and trust of that office or employment, the statute of limitations does not begin until the accused is no longer a public official or employee.  
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About The Author

Mr. Michels grew up in Osage, Iowa where he graduated from Osage High School in 2000. He then attended Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa where he graduated, magna cum laude, in December 2003 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Criminology and Psychology. At UIU, M ... read more