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.
|Definition||The 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 sections||Leis Gerais de Massachusetts Cap. 277 sec. 63;Leis Gerais de Massachusetts Cap. 265|
|minor offenses||term of 6 years.|
|Crimes in which the child is a victim|
|Acts during which the statute is not executed||When the defendant is not an ordinary and public resident of Massachusetts.|
|Other||N / 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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