With some exceptions, the state of New Jersey imposes limits on the length of time prosecutors have to file charges against those suspected of committing criminal acts. These limits are known as statutes of limitations and are designed to make sure that evidence remains unadulterated during the timely resolution of criminal matters.
As can be expected, the more serious the case, the longer the statute of limitations will be. In fact, there are no statutes of limitations for manslaughter or murder. A defendant can be prosecuted for either offense no matter how much time has elapsed from the crime.
Additionally, the statute of limitations does not apply when a suspect has fled to avoid prosecution for his or her crimes. The clock does not begin ticking until the person’s arrest, even if that arrest occurs decades after the alleged criminal act was committed.
Felonies that are related to bribery and official misconduct have statutes of limitations of seven years. For other felonies, the statutory limits are five years. However, there is a caveat if minors are victims of sexual assault or someone is suspected of endangering a child’s welfare. In those case, prosecutors are given more latitude. A defendant may be prosecuted up to five years after the alleged victim turns 18.
Misdemeanors involving petty offenses carry a one-year statute of limitations in most cases. Others have limits between five and seven years.
Although it is human nature to try to avoid being arrested, postponing the inevitable only leads to a lifetime on the run and looking over your shoulder. One alternative is to retain a New Jersey criminal defense attorney who can coordinate your surrender on charges, arrange bail and craft a vigorous defense on your behalf.
Source: Findlaw, “New Jersey Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws,” accessed Aug. 13, 2015