Monthly Archives:' May 2015

Criminal Statute of Limitations in Texas

Statute of limitations is basically the time period that the state of Texas has to bring charges against someone.  These time periods are different based on the type of case, the severity of the case, whether it was a violent crime, etc.  If the time passes and the state has not brought charges, then they can never prosecute that case. 

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations, like if the accused is absent from the state, the period could be tolled.  But every case is different.  You will also notice that certain types of crimes can have a different statute of limitations based on the facts of the case and what section of the penal code the person was charged under.  If you have a specific question, ask an attorney.

Statute of Limitations by Case

The list below shows certain types of cases in Texas and the statute of limitation associated with that type of case.  You can find all of this information in the Code of Criminal Procedure chapter 12.

Felonies in the State of Texas

NO TIME LIMIT ON BRINGING CHARGES

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident where someone dies
  • Certain offenses against young children
  • Human Trafficking

10 YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

  • Theft by Fiduciary
  • Forgery
  • Theft by Public Servants (of government property)
  • Sexual Assaults not covered above
  • Arson
  • Trafficking not covered above
  • Compelling Prostitution

7 YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

  • Misapplication of fiduciary property or property of a financial institution
  • Securing execution of document by deception;
  • A felony violation under Chapter 162, Tax Code
  • False statement to obtain property or credit under Sec. 32.32 of the Penal Code
  • Money Laundering
  • Credit Card Abuse
  • Fraudulent use or possession of identifying information
  • Medicaid fraud
  • Bigamy

5 YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

  • Theft
  • Robbery
  • Kidnapping or Burglary (except as shown below)
  • Injury to Elderly or Disabled that is not a 1st degree felony
  • Endangering or Abandoning a Child
  • Insurance Fraud

20 YEARS FROM 18TH BIRTHDAY OF THE VICTIM

  • Sexual Performance by Child
  • Aggravated Kidnapping if defendant charged under 20.04(a)(4)
  • Burglary under 30.02 of the Penal Code

10 YEARS FROM 18TH BIRTHDAY OF THE VICTIM

  • Trafficking of persons under Section 20A.02(a)(5) or (6) of the Penal Code
  • Injury to a child under Section 22.04 of the Penal Code
  • Compelling prostitution under Section 43.05(a)(2) of the Penal Code
  • Bigamy under Section 25.01 of the Penal Code

3 YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

  • All other felonies

Misdemeanors in the State of Texas

  • The statute of limitation is two years from the date the crime was committed.

Pre-Trial Diversion Changes in Harris County

There are changes coming for the Pre-Trial Diversion Programs by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.  The most important change has to do with the ability of an individual to apply for an expunction on the case.

Changes to Pre-Trial Diversion Program Length

Before, when accepted into a pre-trial diversion (intervention) program they would have to sign a lengthy contract with the State of Texas.  These programs used to be 1 year for misdemeanors and anywhere from 1-3 years for felonies.  Now, all misdemeanors for pre-trial diversions (with the exception of the DWI program which is very different) are 6 months long.

Pre-Trial Diversion Community Service Requirements

Another change to the Pre-Trial Diversion Program is the amount of community service required.  Before, the amount of community service on the contract was 80 hours, which amounted to 10 full days or 20 half days of volunteer work.  This was very difficult for individuals who were full time students or those who were working full time.  Now the new contracts only require 16 hours, which is only 2 days of community service.  This is much more reasonable, and there is no excuse to complete the hours.

Pre-Trial Intervention and Expunction

But in my opinion, the most important change to the Pre-Trial Diversion Program in Harris County has to do with applying for an expunction.  On the old contract, individuals were told that by entering the program, they are agreeing to not seek an expunction for at least 2 years from the date they the program is over and their case is dismissed.  So on a normal misdemeanor shoplifting case, it would take 3 years (1 year pre trial diversion, 2 year waiting) plus any time in court that it took to actually get into the program, usually 60-90 days.  Under the change certain cases, such as theft, will be immediately eligible for expunctions.  This means the same person who was charged with theft could now seek an expunction after just 6 months instead of over 3 years.

However, certain cases will still have a 2 year waiting period.  Some of those cases are:

  • Assault
  • Assault-Family Member
  • Terroristic Threat
  • Deadly Conduct
  • Resisting Arrest

Class A misdemeanors not listed above will have 1 year waiting periods instead of the old 2 year period.  And any other class B misdemeanor will have no waiting period.

This is of course always subject to change as it is a policy of the District Attorney’s Office of Harris County.  But as is, at the time of writing, this is a great change for those who might be unfortunate enough to be going through this process.  If you have specific questions, contact our attorneys regarding your case.