Wisconsin Criminal Statute of Limitations

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Below are the statutes of limitation for criminal cases in Wisconsin 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.

Wis. Stat. § 939.74

Offenses

Felonies, with a few exceptions: within six years

Misdemeanors, with a few exceptions: within three years

Adultery, with a few exceptions: within three years

First-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, felony murder, second-degree intentional homicide, first degree sexual assault of a child, certain felony violations of engaging in repeated acts of sexual assault of the same child: no limit

Second-degree reckless homicide: within 15 years

Theft, having obtained possession of the property lawfully and subsequently misappropriating it: within one year after discovery of the loss, but time limitation can be extended only up to five years

Second degree sexual assault of a child, certain felony violations of engaging in repeated acts of sexual assault of the same child, intentionally causing great bodily harm to a child, sexual exploitation of a child, incest with a child, certain child enticement, use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, soliciting a child for prostitution, sexual assault of a child placed in substitute care, or sexual assault of a child by a school staff person or a person who works or volunteers with children: before the victim reaches the age of 45 years, with exceptions relating to the use of DNA evidence

Certain causation of bodily harm to a child or failing to act to prevent bodily harm to a child, causing mental harm to a child, and certain child enticement: before the victim reaches the age of 26 years, with exceptions relating to the use of DNA evidence

Trafficking of a child: before the victim reaches the age of 24, with exceptions relating to the use of DNA evidence

DNA evidence

For certain offenses, use of DNA evidence to identify the offender can extend the periods of limitation for prosecution (see Wis. Stat. § 939.74 for more details)

Tolling provisions

Time periods during which the offender was not publicly a resident of Wisconsin or during which a prosecution against the offender for the same act was pending are not included in the periods of limitation

Time periods during which an alleged victim of sexual exploitation by a therapist under is unable to seek the issuance of a complaint due to the effects of the sexual contact or due to any threats, instructions or statements from the therapist are not included in the periods of limitation

Back to State Criminal Defense Statutes

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