A statute of limitations sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event can be started. The purpose and effect of statutes of limitations are to protect defendants charged with felony or misdemeanor offenses. There are three reasons that support the existence of these protections: (1) that a plaintiff with good causes of action should pursue them in a timely manner; (2) that a defendant might have lost evidence to disprove a claim, and (3) that cases that have lingered for long periods before they are brought are more cruel than just. The general rule is that the limitation period starts when the plaintiff’s cause of action accrues or is made aware of the injury.

Statutes of Limitations in criminal cases in Michigan are controlled by MCL 767.24, unless the specific crime contains its own limitations period. The statute of limitations is a nonjuridictional, waivable affirmative defense.

In Michigan serious crimes such as murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit murder, rape, crimes involving explosives and bombs, and involving terrorism.

Federal Law Control The Issue of Search Warrants

There are several crimes that have a 10 year statute of limitations period or by the victim’s 21st birthday – whichever is later. These crimes are all sexual in nature. However, there is no limitation period of the offender is unidentified and DNA evidence ultimately identifies the person. After identification, the prosecutor has 10 years or by the alleged victim’s 21st birthday – whichever is later to charge the offender.

There is also a 10 year statute of limitations on kidnapping, extortion, assault with intent to murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and first degree home invasion.

If there is not a specific designation regarding the statute of limitations as it relates to a particular crime – then the case must be brought within 6 years.

There are also some situations that may toll the running of the statute of limitations period. This would allow bringing of criminal charges after the “technical” date the statutory period expired.


If you, or a loved one, are facing a criminal charge that may have been brought after the expiration of the statute of limitations, you need expert legal help to protect you and assert any, and all, defenses that are available to you. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. appear in state and federal court every day and have decades of experience in representing people charged with crimes. We would be happy to answer any questions you have. Please contact us at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and one of our attorneys will contact you.

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