Michigan Criminal Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations set time limits for the government to bring criminal charges in a case. Depending on the offense, Michigan prosecutors generally have six, ten, 15, or 25 years to file charges. Some offenses—like murder—can be charged at any time.

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 Michigan and most other states, violent crimes generally have longer statutes of limitations, and some crimes (like murder or terrorism) 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, Michigan’s law sets time limits for a host of specific crimes. For crimes not specifically listed in the statute, the statute of limitations is six years for both felonies and misdemeanors.

(Mich. Comp. Laws § 767.24 (2019).)

Statute of Limitations: Specific Crimes

Below are examples of time limits for specific crimes in Michigan. Keep in mind that the following is a partial list that broadly summarizes the law. You should look at the actual law for nuances and exceptions.

And know that changes to limitations periods made by the legislature apply only to crimes not yet time-barred. This means that, if the prosecution already ran out of time to file charges under the old law, any new changes to the law extending time limits don't apply.

Murder, Manslaughter, and Homicide

  • Murder: no time limit
  • Attempted murder: 10 years
  • Manslaughter: 10 years

Rape and Sex Offenses

  • First-degree criminal sexual conduct: no time limit
  • Second- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct when victim is younger than 18: 15 years or by the victim’s 28th birthday, whichever is later
  • Second- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct when victim is 18 or older: 10 years or by the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later
  • Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct: 10 years or by the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later
  • Human trafficking and child sex trafficking: 25 years

Robbery, Burglary, and Fraud-Related Offenses

  • Armed robbery: 10 years
  • First-degree home invasion: 10 years
  • Identity theft: six years after the suspect is identified
  • False pretenses or forgery involving real property, mortgage fraud: 10 years after the offense or recording of a document, whichever is later

Tolling the Statute of Limitations

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 or extend the limitations period.

DNA evidence. For instance, Michigan law allows criminal sexual conduct crimes to be prosecuted at any time, if DNA evidence was collected in the investigation. Once the suspect is identified, the original time limit for the offense begins to run.

Identity unknown; reported to police. Michigan allows extra time for certain crimes to be prosecuted where the suspect's identity is unknown. If reported within one year to the police, the following crimes can be prosecuted within 10 years of identifying the suspect: kidnapping, extortion, assault with intent to commit murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, and first-degree home invasion.

Residing outside the state. If a person moves his or her residence outside the state, the law gives the prosecutor extra time to file charges. In Michigan, the statute of limitations doesn’t run during anytime the defendant does not usually and publicly reside in the state.

Time to Talk to a Lawyer

Statutes of limitations are confusing to say the least. The same conduct can be the basis for multiple criminal charges, meaning that more than one limitations period could apply. And because lawmakers can make changes to statutes of limitations, the time limit currently in law might not apply to a past crime. Consult a knowledgeable attorney in your area to understand how the statutes of limitations apply in a specific case.

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