If someone is accused of a crime, then it’s the job of criminal prosecutors to take all of the evidence from police and bring formal charges against the accused if there’s enough evidence that a crime occurred.
From there, it could go to a plea agreement or a trial, but in many cases, there is a limit on how much time prosecutors have to bring charges against someone who is accused of a crime.
It’s called a statute of limitations, and the statutes of limitation vary from state to state and depend on the severity and the type of crime involved.
What are the statutes of limitation in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, there are statutes of limitations for the following crimes:
- Bribery – seven years
- Embezzlement of public funds – seven years
- Misappropriation of public assets – seven years
- Falsifying public records – seven years
- Conspiracy to defraud the state – seven years
- Rape or forcible sodomy – seven years
- Lewd or indecent proposals – seven years
- Child sex crimes involving minors – seven years
- Sodomy – seven years
- Arson – seven years
**The statute of limitations can be extended for sex crimes if DNA evidence that is collected within three years of the crime identifies the culprit through DNA testing.
Here are the crimes that have a five-year window for prosecution:
- Criminal conspiracy
- Embezzlement of nonpublic money
- Criminal state income tax violations
For all other crimes, the statute of limitations in Oklahoma is three years, except for one. There is no statute of limitations for murder.
Why are there statutes of limitations in place?
Statutes of limitations exist for a number of reasons, the most important of which is to ensure a fair and speedy trial, a right afforded by the U.S. Constitution. Statutes of limitations try to keep a balance between making sure the case is tried thoroughly and with solid evidence, as well as not having criminal charges loom for the accused for years on end.
Here’s another reason why statutes of limitations are in place:
- Physical and testimonial evidence — like fingerprints, witness statements, DNA and other things — can deteriorate or disappear completely as time progresses. That’s why it’s imperative that the evidence be presented at trial as soon as possible.
There are certain situations in which a court could suspend the statute of limitations on a particular crime, thus giving prosecutors more time to build their case. Those cases are few and far between.
Like most legal issues, statutes of limitations can be complicated and are best handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you or someone you love is accused of a crime, contact Jacqui Ford’s law office today for help.