Statutes of limitations are the time limits set for prosecutors to file charges in a criminal case. If the prosecution fails to charge someone before the applicable time period expires, then the person charged can have the case dismissed. Statutes of limitations vary depending on how severe the crime is. As such, violent crimes generally have longer statutes of limitations than non-nonviolent offenses.
Statutes of Limitations for Felonies
The following is Iowa’s general statute of limitations for felony crimes:
- First or Second-Degree Murder: No time limit
- First, Second, and Third-Degree Sexual Abuse: Ten years, or three years from the date the suspect is identified by DNA evidence, whichever is later
- Incest: Ten years
- Sexual Exploitation by a Counselor, Therapist, or School Employee: Ten years from the last treatment or the last day of the victim was enrolled or attended school
- Fraud and Breach of Fiduciary Obligation: One year from the time of discovery but not exceeding eight years, extending the general three-year time limit by five years
- Other Felony Crimes: Three years
Statutes of Limitations for Misdemeanors
The following is Iowa’s general statute of limitations for misdemeanor crimes:
- Simple Misdemeanor: One year
- Aggravated or Serious Misdemeanor: Three years
- Fraud and Breach of Fiduciary Obligation: One year from the time of discovery but not exceeding six years, extending the one-year period by five years
Statutes of Limitations for Crimes Involving a Minor
The following is Iowa’s general statute of limitations if the crime involved a minor victim:
- First, Second, or Third-Degree Sexual Abuse: Fifteen years after the victim turns eighteen or three years from the date the suspect is identified by DNA evidence, whichever is later
- Incest or Sexual Exploitation by a Counselor, Therapist, or School Employee: Fifteen years after the victim turns eighteen years old
- Other Sex Offenses, Kidnapping, and Human Trafficking: Ten years after the victim turns eighteen or three years from the date the suspect is identified through DNA evidence, whichever is later
Do Statutes of Limitations Pause?
Time limits for filing criminal charges are in effect only when the suspect is visible and within the state where the crime occurred. This is known as tolling the statute of limitations. So if a suspect flees out of state or goes into hiding, the statutory clock will pause and will resume when and if the criminal reenters the state. Statutes of Limitations are tolled to hinder criminals who would rather run away than face law enforcement.
Contact our Criminal Defense Team in Iowa Today
At Branstad & Olson, our Iowa criminal defense attorneys bring 65 years of collective experience to each case we take on. Our reputable law firm has effectively represented thousands of clients and secured a record of dismissals, as well as reducing charges and sentences in a wide range of criminal cases. Our stellar results are driven by how much we care about our clients’ best interests and how hard we work to achieve the best possible outcome.
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