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Statute Of Limitations For Criminal Law In Colorado

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Are You Familiar With The Statute Of Limitations?

The Colorado statute of limitations for criminal law is a set of rules that puts an exact date on how much time is allowed to pass before a criminal case is deemed unfit for a fair judgement. This is due to the fact that evidence degrades over time and testimony from witnesses may be skewed after long periods of time. Once the statute of limitations time constraints have passed, the individual at fault for the crime is no longer able to be prosecuted for the crime, essentially giving them a pass.

Colorado Statute Of Limitations For Criminal Offenses

Now this is not always the case, there are many different types of crimes that are handled differently by the courts and allow for much longer limits on the statute of limitations. We will take a deeper dive into which types of crimes have special rules below.

Colorado’s Statute Of Limitations For Specific Types Of Crimes

Six Months

For small crimes, also known as petty crimes, the statute of limitations only has a 6 month window for charges to be filed after the discovery of the criminal act. The typical penalties for these minor crimes is a small fine, probation, community service or very short jail sentence.

Some of these crimes include:

  • Theft(less than $50)
  • Public indecency
  • 3rd degree criminal trespassing

One Year

For class 1 and 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses the statute of limitations allows up to one year for charges to be filed after the discovery of the criminal act. The typical penalties for these crimes are fines of up to $1000, probation, driving classes or even up to a year of jail time.

Some of these crimes include:

  • Driving without a valid drivers license
  • Racing other drivers
  • Exceeding construction zone speed limits by 25 mph or more

Eighteen Months

For class 1, 2 & 3 misdemeanor crimes, the statute allows up to 18 months for charges to be filed after the discovery of the criminal act. Typical penalties for these crimes are probation, fines up to $5000, classes, and up to 24 months of jail time.

Some of these crimes include:

  • Theft(between $750-$2,000 in value)
  • Disorderly conduct
  • 2nd degree arson

Three Years

For “other felony” crimes, the statute of limitations allows up to 3 years for charges to be filed from the date the offense was committed. Typical penalties are serious and come with long prison terms, probation, classes and numerous other penalties. 

Some of these crimes include:

  • Manslaughter
  • Drug felonies
  • Racketeering

Five Years

The 5 year limit on the statute of limitations applies to very serious crimes and charges can be filed for up to 5 years from the date of discovery or the date the offense was committed; to be determined by the court. Typical penalties for these crimes are lengthy prison sentences, probation, classes and more.

Some of these crimes include:

  • Vehicular homicide
  • Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death
  • Criminal violations of the Colorado Commodity Code

Twenty Years

In 2016, Colorado changed the statute of limitations from 10 years to 20 years for felony sexual assault crimes. Colorado law also allows for a DNA exception rule that states any felony sexual assault that is reported within 10 years of the date of the offense and has DNA evidence against the perpetrator, the statue of limitations is waived and the charges may be filed indefinitely.

No Limit

For the most serious crimes, the statute of limitations has no time limit. These crimes come with extensive prison sentences, many of 10 years incarceration or more.

Some of these crimes include:

  • Murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Treason
  • Any sex offense against a child
  • Any type of forgery

 

The no limit rule also applies to the attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the above listed crimes.

An Exception Applies When Offender Flee The State

Many people have tried to play the system over the years and just moved out of state for longer than the statute of limitations allows them to be prosecuted in hopes that they can avoid the charges. This is not the case though as Colorado law allows for what is called “tolling” where in the event that the offender flees the state, the statute of limitations time limits will be paused until the offender is back in the state. 

So if you commit a crime that has a 5 year statute of limitations and leave right after it happens, then decide to return 7 years later, the clock won’t start ticking until you get back to Colorado. 

Criminal Law Is Tricky, But We Are Experts At Every Angle

Trying to navigate the criminal justice system is a daunting task and there are so many variables at every turn that it can be very overwhelming for offenders to get a good outcome in court. Our criminal defense attorneys have been representing clients for all types of criminal charges in Colorado for decades and we know every possible avenue to pursue to get you the best outcome possible.

Don’t try to handle your criminal case alone, call Rector Stuzynski LLC today for a free consultation and the best criminal defense representation that Colorado Springs has to offer. You can reach us anytime at (719) 578-1106.

Areas We Serve

We serve clients charged with crimes or injured anywhere throughout the state of Colorado, but we focus on residents of these areas: Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Fountain, Monument, Black Forest, Pueblo, Canon City, Larkspur, Security-Widefield, Peyton, Castle Rock, Teller County, El Paso County, Elbert County, Park County and beyond.