Statute of Limitations

“How much time do they have to charge me?”  This is a question that is often asked by individuals being investigated for a crime and is a good question because the law limits the time in which the State has to file criminal charges depending on the nature of the crime.  If the State fails to file charges within the time periods set by law, then those charges will be barred.  Below is a listing of the limitation periods for criminal offenses in Iowa.  It is important to remember that these periods only reflect situations where the person has not yet been arrested for the offense.  If the person was arrested then the forty-five days speedy indictment rule would apply.

Simple Misdemeanors-  within one year of commission of the offense.

Felonies and aggravated or serious misdemeanors- within three years after commission of the offense or within three years after DNA evidence is available.

Sexual Abuse in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree where the victim is under the age of 18 – within ten years after the victim turns 18 or within three years after DNA evidence is available which identifies the accused.

Any other sexual abuse in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree- within ten years after commission or within three years after DNA evidence is available which identifies the accused.

Incest with a person under age 18- within ten years after the victim turn 18 and all other incest is within ten years after commission of the offense.

Sexual Exploitation by a counselor therapist, or school employee- where the victim is under 18 it is ten years from when the victim turns 18 and all others is within ten years after the victim was last treated or enrolled in school.

Murder- no statute of limitations.
These periods of time may be tolled is the person leaves the state or when the person is not publicly a resident within the State.  These limitations may also be tolled if the accused is a public officer or employee if the offense relates to duties and trust of their office or employment.  Therefore, it is important to contact qualified counsel if you or someone you know may have a statute of limitations argument relating to a criminal charge.

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