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Louisiana Prosecutors Can Charge You Years After You Commit a Crime

Posted on Feb 19, 2020 in Criminal Defense

If you made a mistake a while back and broke the law without getting caught, you may feel like you are in the clear. Don’t be so sure, though. Louisiana prosecutors usually have years to arrest and charge someone for committing a crime. For the most violent crimes, you could be charged decades after the fact. Statutes of limitations are laws that establish set periods within which charges must be brought after a crime has allegedly been committed.  If prosecutors don’t bring charges before the limitations period ends, any charges brought thereafter are likely to be dismissed. Contact a skilled criminal defense attorney today if you have questions about the timing of your charges.

Louisiana Criminal Statutes of Limitations

In Louisiana, there is no statute of limitations for a crime punishable by life in prison or death such as murder, as well as rape. Prosecutors can bring charges for those crimes at any time. For other offenses, limitations periods are generally broken into categories based on the severity of the offense, with specific exceptions for certain types of crimes:
  • Felony punishable by imprisonment at hard labor: 6 years
  • Felony not necessarily punishable by imprisonment at hard labor: 4 years
  • Misdemeanor punishable by a fine, or imprisonment, or both: 2 years
  • Misdemeanor punishable only by a fine or forfeiture: 6 months


Though the clock usually starts ticking on a statute of limitations the day after a crime has been committed, Louisiana law provides that the time period can be “tolled” under certain circumstances. That means that the limitations period won’t start running until a later date and a set limitations period can actually run for years longer than it otherwise would. For example, certain sex crimes against minors have a limitations period of 30 years. However, that time period does not start until the victim turns 18. These crimes include sexual battery, felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, indecent behavior with juveniles, molestation of a juvenile, crime or aggravated crime against nature, or incest or aggravated incest. Additional tolling provisions include:
  • Sex offenses involving DNA evidence: 3 years from the date the suspect’s identity is established by DNA
  • For certain financial crimes involving existing relationships, the limitations period does not start to run until the relationship ends. This applies to:
    • misappropriation of money or thing of value by one who by office, employment, or fiduciary relationship has been entrusted therewith
    • extortion or false accounting committed by a public officer or employee in an official capacity
    • public bribery
Additionally, any applicable limitations period will be tolled for the time a defendant flees from Louisiana or is absent from their usual place of abode for the purpose of avoiding detection, apprehension, or prosecution. So, if you return to Louisiana after you think the “coast is clear,” you could be mistaken. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in New Orleans or elsewhere in Louisiana, please contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible at 504-599-9997 or contact us online now. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are ready to vigorously protect your rights, are available 24/7, and will work tirelessly to obtain the best possible result so you can move forward with your life.

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