How Long Does a Prosecutor Have to File Charges in New Jersey?

Statutes of limitations set forth deadlines for filing certain types of criminal charges. These time limits help ensure that cases are prosecuted in a timely manner. They also protect individuals from facing charges for past actions after a reasonable period has passed, thereby preventing the possible introduction of stale or unreliable evidence.

In New Jersey, the deadline for a prosecutor to file charges varies depending on the seriousness of the alleged crime. For example, a charge for a disorderly persons offense typically must be filed within one year of the date the alleged misconduct occurred. Meanwhile, prosecutors may have up to five years to file a charge for an indictable crime. Further, in some cases such as those involving child abuse, no statute of limitations will be imposed. The team at our firm can explain the applicable statute of limitations in your specific case.

Seek help from our experienced Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers by calling the Lombardo Law Group, LLC at (609) 418-4537.

Time Limit for Filing Criminal Charges Against You in New Jersey

In New Jersey, prosecutors must file charges within a specific time frame, which is referred to as the statute of limitations. As established by N.J.S.A. § 2C:1-6, this period can vary based on the severity of the crime you are being accused of. For less serious offenses, the statute of limitations is typically one year. This means that charges for disorderly persons offenses must be brought to court within one year from the date when the alleged crime occurred.

However, for more serious crimes, the statute of limitations is longer. For example, in cases involving indictable crimes, prosecutors are afforded up to five years to file charges. It is essential to understand that the clock starts ticking on the date the alleged crime was committed. If the prosecutor does not file charges within the prescribed time frame, then they may lose the opportunity to do so, and you may be protected from prosecution for that particular incident.

For some of the most severe crimes, no statute of limitations will be imposed. For instance, charges for murder, manslaughter, and sexual assault may be filed at any time.

You should be aware that there are exceptions and nuances to these time limits. During your free case review, our Cherry Hill, NJ criminal defense attorneys can explain the statute of limitations relevant to your specific case. Furthermore, our team can help navigate the judicial process and build a strong defense on your behalf.

Exceptions and Circumstances that May Extend the Statute of Limitations in New Jersey

There are circumstances where the statute of limitations may be extended in New Jersey. For example, the deadline for a prosecutor to file charges may be altered in cases involving any of the following:

Child Victims

N.J.S.A. §2C:1-6(b)(4) allows for the statute of limitations to be extended for the charge of criminal contact against children as well as the charge of endangering the welfare of children. Charges for these offenses must be filed either within 5 years of the victim reaching 18 years old or within 2 years of a victim’s discovery of the crime, depending on which of these events takes place later.

This extension is intended to protect the rights of young victims who might not immediately come forward due to fear, trauma, or other reasons. It acknowledges the unique challenges associated with such cases and ensures that justice can be pursued whenever victims are ready to seek it.

DNA Evidence

According to N.J.S.A. §2C:1-6(c), statute of limitations may also be extended in cases involving DNA evidence. In such cases, the countdown may only begin when law enforcement possesses both the physical evidence from the crime and the DNA of a suspected individual.

Fugitive Status

If the accused is a fugitive and evades arrest, then the statute of limitations may be tolled, meaning the clock stops running until they are located and apprehended. This measure ensures that individuals who are actively evading law enforcement are not able to escape prosecution simply by eluding capture. It discourages fugitives from evading justice and underlines the principle that the law is committed to holding those responsible accountable for their actions.

Ongoing Criminal Activity

In cases where a pattern of criminal activity is involved, such as ongoing fraud or receiving stolen property, the statute of limitations might be extended because the clock starts ticking from the last act in the series. This exception recognizes that some crimes are not isolated incidents but part of a larger, ongoing scheme.

Concealment of Evidence

Lastly, if the defendant is found to have deliberately concealed evidence or taken steps to prevent discovery, this could lead to the statute of limitations being extended. This provision is in place to prevent individuals from obstructing justice by hiding evidence or engaging in actions aimed at delaying the prosecution process.

How Our Attorneys Can Help Navigate Statute of Limitations Issues in New Jersey

Assistance from our attorneys can be crucial when navigating statute of limitations issues in New Jersey. We have experience dealing with criminal defense cases and will fight to ensure that your rights are protected.

Our team understands the nuances of New Jersey law and can help you leverage the statute of limitations to your advantage. Further, we can challenge charges that fall outside the statute of limitations. Ultimately, we will help craft a robust defense strategy that safeguards your interests and works to secure the best possible outcome for your case.

Call Our Criminal Defense Attorneys for Assistance with Your Case in New Jersey

Seek support from our experienced Linwood, NJ criminal defense attorneys at the Lombardo Law Group, LLC by calling (609) 418-4537.

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