Colorado Criminal Statute of Limitations

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Below are the statutes of limitation for criminal cases in Colorado which set forth the time periods within which a legal proceeding must be commenced. If the state fails to bring a case within the specified time period, it loses its right to prosecute for that crime forever. In general, violent crimes have a longer statute of limitations, and with some crimes there is no statute of limitations. In certain instances, the statute of limitations may be tolled, or suspended, which grants the state additional time to commence a legal action.

Colo. Rev. Stat. 16-5-401

Offenses

Murder, kidnapping, treason, any sex offense against a child, and any forgery regardless of the penalty provided; attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit murder; attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit kidnapping; attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit treason; attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any sex offense against a child; and attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any forgery regardless of the penalty provided: No limit

Vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in the death of a person: five years

Other felonies: three years

Misdemeanors: 18 months

Class 1 and 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses: one year

Petty offenses: six months

See Colo. Rev. Stat. 16-5-401 for other limitation periods

DNA Evidence

If the identity of the defendant is determined through DNA, and the offense (other than sex offenses against children) has been reported to a law enforcement agency within ten years after the commission of the offense: No limit

Tolling Provisions

The time limitations for prosecution are tolled (suspended) during any period in which:

  • the offender is absent from the state, for up to five years
  • a prosecution is pending against the offender for the same conduct, even if the indictment, information, complaint, or petition in delinquency which commences the prosecution is quashed or the proceedings thereon are set aside or are reversed on appeal
  • a prosecution is pending against the offender for the same conduct, even if filed in a court without jurisdiction, when based on a reasonable belief the court possesses jurisdiction

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