Mississippi Criminal Statute of Limitations

Mississippi law sets time limits—called statutes of limitations—for prosecutors to bring a criminal case against someone for a crime. If the prosecution waits too long, the person charged can have the case dismissed.

By , Attorney
Updated May 19, 2020

Statutes of limitations set time limits for prosecutors 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.

Mississippi Criminal Statutes of Limitations

In Mississippi 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.

Statutes of Limitations: Felonies and Misdemeanors

Like many states, Mississippi law sets time limits for a host of specific crimes. For crimes not specifically listed in the statute, the statute of limitations is two years after the crime (for both felonies and misdemeanors).

(Miss. Code § 99-1-5 (2019).)

Statute of Limitations: Specific Crimes

Below are examples of time limits for specific crimes in Mississippi. 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. (Any changes to limitations periods made by the legislature apply only to crimes not yet time-barred, and cannot revive cases where the statute of limitations has already expired.)

Murder, Manslaughter, and Homicide

  • Murder and manslaughter: no time limit
  • Voluntary, involuntary, reckless, and negligent homicide: no time limit

Rape and Sex Crimes

  • Rape: no time limit
  • Touching or handling a child for lustful purposes: no time limit
  • Sexual battery of a child: no time limit
  • Other sexual battery: 2 years after the crime
  • Promoting prostitution of a minor: no time limit

Assault and Other Crimes Against People

  • Aggravated assault: no time limit
  • Aggravated domestic violence: no time limit
  • Other assaults: 2 years after the crime
  • Robbery and kidnapping: no time limit
  • Felony abuse of a child: no time limit
  • Felony abuse of a vulnerable person: 5 years after the crime

Theft, Larceny, and Fraud-Related Offenses

  • Larceny and burglary: no time limit
  • Larceny of timber: 6 years after the crime
  • Embezzlement, forgery, and counterfeiting: no time limit
  • Using false pretenses or fraud to obtain money or property: no time limit
  • Felony assistance-program fraud: 5 years after the crime

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, the law might delay the starting of the time clock or extend the limitations period. In Mississippi, the statute of limitations won't prevent someone from being prosecuted if that person absconds (hides) or flees from justice or leaves the state in order not to be found.

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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