As time goes by: Can you be arrested for a crime committed years ago? p2

Inspector Javert, the incorruptible policeman in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, makes it his life's work to track down Jean Valjean. For literature students, at least, Javert is the embodiment of relentless pursuit. It matters not what Valjean's crime is: The man has broken the law and must be brought to justice. After a few chapters, we can't even remember what Valjean's crime was.

Could it happen in Minnesota? At least, could it happen in this country and in this century? Even if law enforcement does pursue a suspected criminal for decades, is an arrest still possible?

As we said in our Sept. 19 post, it depends on the crime. It also depends on which state the crime, or alleged crime, occurred in.

Homicide has no statute of limitations. If the evidence is there, the police can arrest someone for a murder committed 75 years ago. The police must abide by current laws and procedures that protect the detainee's rights -- for example, a Miranda warning would be required even if the crime was committed before the U.S. Supreme Court decided Miranda v. Arizona. Kidnapping has no statute of limitations, either.

Nor do sex trafficking and labor trafficking if the victim was 17 years old or younger when the crime was committed. The limitation changes, though, if the victim of sex or labor trafficking was 18 years old or older. In that case, there must be an indictment or complaint filed within six years. Similar age rules apply to sex crimes: 17 or younger, charges must be filed within nine years or within three years after the offense is reported to authorities.

For sex crimes against victims age 18 or older, the rules change again -- this time as a response to advances in DNA testing. If no DNA evidence is collected or preserved, the statute of limitations is nine years. With DNA evidence, there is no time limit.

White collar crimes like embezzlement have a five-year statute of limitations. Medical assistance fraud has a six-year statute. Crimes against property -- theft, for example -- have just a three-year statute.

If you have questions about your own situation, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: Minnesota Statutes Annotated § 628.26 via WestlawNext

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