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 Nebraska and most other states, violent crimes generally have longer statutes of limitations, and some crimes (like murder and certain sex crimes) have no statute of limitations—meaning a criminal case can be filed at any time.
Like many states, Nebraska'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:
Below are examples of time limits for specific crimes in Nebraska. 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.
(Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-110 (2019).)
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.
Child pornography. For instance, Nebraska law allows certain possession of child pornography cases to be prosecuted seven years after the commission of the offense or seven years after the victim's 18th birthday, whichever is later.
Fleeing from justice. Also, if a person tries to "evade" (avoid) arrest for a crime, the law gives the prosecutor extra time to file charges. In Nebraska, the statute of limitations doesn't apply to any person fleeing from justice.
Statutes of limitations carry serious consequences. If the state fails to timely charge a crime, it loses its right to prosecute that case. Certain circumstances toll (or suspend) the limitations period, allowing the prosecution more time to bring the case. Consult a knowledgeable attorney in your area to understand how the statutes of limitations apply in a specific case.