Massachusetts Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws - FindLaw (2023)

ByFindLaw Staff🇧🇷 reviewed byHeidy García, J.D.🇧🇷 Last updated on September 29, 2020

State laws place limits on the amount of time prosecutors have to file criminal charges, calledpenal prescriptions🇧🇷 Most states have different thresholds for different types of crimes, and so does Massachusetts. There is a six-year deadline for filing misdemeanor charges, for example. For theft charges, there is a 10-year limit, and for rape charges, a 15-year statute of limitations.

Massachusetts Criminal Statutes of Limitations

Learn more about Massachusetts statutes of limitations and related issues in the sections below.

stateMassachusetts
Hecriminal prescriptions
DefinitionThe criminal statute of limitations is a term that the State has to prosecute a crime. Under Massachusetts law, the statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime you are facing, ranging from six years to no time limit.
code sectionsLeis Gerais de Massachusetts Cap. 277 sec. 63;Leis Gerais de Massachusetts Cap. 265
crimes graves
  • Murder: No time limit.
  • Indecent assault and assault on a child under the age of 14 in the commission of certain crimes, or Conspiracy to commit a crime/Accomplice in a crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 or conspiracy to commit a crime/complicit in a crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 by certain previously convicted offenders, or conspiracy to commit a crime/accomplice in a crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Indecent assault and assault on a person with an intellectual disability or criminal conspiracy/complicit in crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Wild or reckless behavior that creates a risk of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse of a child, or Conspiracy to commit a crime/Incentive to commit a crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Rape and/or child abuse, or conspiracy to commit a crime/complicit in a crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Rape of a child while committing certain crimes by use of force, or Conspiracy to commit a crime/partner in crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Rape of a child by use of force by a previously convicted criminal: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Assault on a Child or Conspiracy to Commit a Crime/Accomplice to a Crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Violation: term of 15 years.
  • Assault with intent to commit rape: term of 15 years.
  • Conspiracy to commit or commit rape/aggression with intent to commit rape: term of 15 years.
  • Armed Robbery or Criminal Conspiracy/Accomplice in Crime: term of 10 years.
  • Assault with intent to steal or kill Conspiracy to commit a crime/Accomplice in a crime: term of 10 years.
  • Unarmed Robbery or Criminal Conspiracy/Accomplice in Crime: term of 10 years.
  • Theft by confinement or instilling fear or Conspiracy to commit a crime / accessory to crime: term of 10 years.
  • Violent indecent assault and aggression against a child or person with an intellectual disability; child rape/abuse/assault; kidnapping of minors; deals with people; sexual offenses, such as soliciting marriage, inducing minors into prostitution, lewd and lewd behavior or acts, disseminating material harmful to minors, displaying nudity or crimes against nature: The deadline depends on when the victim turns 16 or the crime is reported, whichever occurs first.
  • any other crime: term of 6 years.
minor offensesterm of 6 years.
Crimes in which the child is a victim
  • Indecent assault and assault on a child under the age of 14 in the commission of certain crimes, or Conspiracy to commit a crime/Accomplice in a crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 or conspiracy to commit a crime/complicit in a crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 by certain previously convicted offenders, or conspiracy to commit a crime/accomplice in a crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Rape of a child while committing certain crimes by use of force, or Conspiracy to commit a crime/partner in crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Rape of a child by use of force by a previously convicted criminal: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Assault on a Child or Conspiracy to Commit a Crime/Accomplice to a Crime: No time limit, but any charge or allegation found and filed more than 27 years after the crime must be supported by independent evidence substantiating the victim's claim and will not consist solely of the opinions of mental health professionals.
  • Indecent assault and assault on a child; child rape/abuse/assault; kidnapping of minors; sexual crimes such as inducing minors into prostitution, lascivious and lascivious conduct or acts, dissemination of material harmful to minors, display of nudity or crimes against nature: The deadline depends on when the victim turns 16 or the crime is reported, whichever occurs first.
Acts during which the statute is not executedWhen the defendant is not an ordinary and public resident of Massachusetts.
OtherN / D

The idea behind criminal statutes of limitations is to ensure that criminal trials (and possible subsequent convictions) are based on evidence that has not deteriorated over time. Witness evidence (official statements, eyewitness accounts, etc.) and physical evidence (fingerprints, DNA, etc.) may disappear or be lost over time. Therefore, it is better to have a criminal trial as soon as possible after an incident has occurred. Longer or more indefinite statutes of limitation attempt to balance the interest in fair trials with the seriousness of the crime. The idea is that criminals cannot avoid the consequences of serious crimes simply by waiting around for the authorities.

Most statutes of limitations will only enforce as long as the alleged offender remains visible and in the state where the crime occurred. If the suspect is out of state or living in hiding, this will stop, or "beat", the regulatory clock. The clock is ticking again, so to speak, if the criminal re-enters the state.

Resources related to Massachusetts criminal statute of limitations:

Any criminal charge is a serious matter and criminal statutes may vary depending on your jurisdiction. If you have been accused of a crime, you cancontact a Massachusetts criminal defense attorneyin your area to discuss your case. You can also visit FindLaw'sBasic concepts of criminal lawfor additional details.

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