Idaho Criminal Statute of Limitations

If the state tries to prosecute someone after the applicable time period has passed, the person charged can have the case dismissed.

Statutes of limitations set time limits for the government to bring criminal charges in a case. If the prosecution charges someone after the applicable time period has passed, the person charged can have the case dismissed.

In Idaho and most other states, violent crimes generally have longer statutes of limitations, and some crimes (like murder and rape) have no statute of limitations—meaning a criminal case can be filed at any time. In certain instances, statutes of limitations are “tolled” (suspended), allowing the government more time to bring a case.

Statute of Limitations: Felonies and Misdemeanors

Like many states, Idaho’s law sets time limits for a host of specific crimes. For crimes not specifically listed in the statute, a general statute of limitations applies based on the category of the crime. The general time limits are:

Statute of Limitations for Specific Crimes

Below are examples of time limits for specific crimes in Idaho. Keep in mind that the following is a partial list that broadly summarizes the law. You should look at the actual law for nuances, exceptions, and legislative changes—and know that court rulings can affect the interpretation of the law. (Idaho Code §§ 19-401 to 406 (2019).)

Murder, Manslaughter, and Terrorism

  • Murder, voluntary manslaughter: no time limit
  • Act of terrorism: no time limit

Rape, Sex Crimes, and Abuse Crimes

  • Rape (excluding statutory rape), sexual abuse or lewd conduct with a child younger than 16: no time limit
  • Failure to report abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child: 4 years after such failure
  • Ritualized abuse of children, female genital mutilation of a child: 3 years after disclosure by victim to law enforcement
  • Sexual exploitation by medical care provider: 2 years after the crime

Time Clock: Starting and Stopping

Generally, the statute of limitations starts when the crime occurs. But in circumstances where it’s difficult to discover the crime or a victim might be particularly scared to report it, the law might delay the starting of the time clock. For instance, Idaho’s law doesn’t start the clock for ritualized abuse of children the crime is reported to law enforcement.

Also, if a person tries to “evade” (avoid) arrest for a crime, the law gives the prosecutor extra time to file charges. In Idaho, the statute of limitations is tolled:

  • if the defendant is out of state when the crime is committed (and restarts upon the person’s return to the state), and
  • during any period the defendant is not an inhabitant of, or usually resident of, the state.

Time to Talk to a Lawyer

Statutes of limitations are confusing to say the least. Plus, the same conduct can be the basis for multiple criminal charges, meaning that more than one limitations period could apply. Consult a knowledgeable attorney in your area to understand how the statutes of limitations apply in a specific case.

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