Sep 21, 2020 Deadlines to initiate Virginia misdemeanor cases- View of Fairfax lawyer
Deadlines / statute of limitations for Virginia misdemeanor cases addressed by Fairfax criminal lawyer
Deadlines for initiating Virginia misdemeanor prosecutions — also known as the statute of limitations — are generally one year. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that limitations are placed on prosecuting misdemeanors so that potential crime suspects may avoid spending their entire lives not knowing if and when they might be prosecuted, and because the passage of time can mean the loss of evidence; unavailability and death of witnesses, and difficulty tracking them down; and failing memories. I also know the importance of knowing the lengthier exceptions to that one year deadline. Va. Code § 19.2-8. Should you exult over having beaten the statute of limitations if your case is dismissed over a year after the alleged crime date? Beware doing so before consulting on the matter with a qualified criminal defense lawyer to make sure you know which statute of limitations applies.
Does Virginia have a deadline for initiating felony prosecutions? When does the Virginia misdemeanor statute of limitations start running?
Virginia has no deadlines for initiating felony prosecutions. All federal prosecutions have statutes of limitations. Beware the separate sovereigns doctrine that removes double jeopardy protections from being prosecuted and convicted both at the state and federal court levels for the same alleged wrongful behavior. The Virginia misdemeanor statute of limitations generally starts running from the day of the alleged criminal incident. Nuances exist concerning when the statute of limitations clock begins and ends.
What Virginia misdemeanors have a longer or later-commencing statute of limitations?
Although the Virginia misdemeanor statute of limitations is generally one year, the following non-exhaustive list presents longer deadlines than one year for initiating Virginia misdemeanor prosecutions: Misdemeanor theft prosecutions have a five-year statute of limitation. Attempting to produce an abortion has a two-year limitation. Practicing law without a license shall be commenced within two years of the discovery of the offense. Fraud in seeking unemployment benefits has a three year limitation.
Additionally concerning misdemeanor filing deadlines, pollution offenses involving discharge, dumping or emission of any toxic substance have a three year statute of limitations. Building code violations — possibly initially spurred by complaints about alleged slumlords — can have limitations that commence from the time of discovery of the violation by a building official or from the date of the issuance of a violation notice by a building official. Fraud regarding professional licensure or certification may be prosecuted “within one year of the discovery of the offense by the complainant, but in no case later than five years from occurrence of the offense.”
What limitation applies to sexual battery, prosecutions for animal cruelty, and peeping tom photography?
Misdemeanor corruption by government officials has a two year limitation, among the deadlines longer than one year. A three year limitation applies to “illegal sales or purchases of wild birds, wild animals and freshwater fish”. Misdemeanor tax fraud and evasion have a three year limitation unless the Virginia Code prescribes a longer period. Cruelty to non-agricultural animals has a five years state of limitations. A five year limitation applies to peeping tom photography, upskirting and downblousing. Computer crimes and identity theft may only be commenced “before the earlier of (i) five years after the commission of the last act in the course of conduct constituting a violation of the article or (ii) one year after the existence of the illegal act and the identity of the offender are discovered by the Commonwealth, by the owner, or by anyone else who is damaged by such violation.”
A prosecution for sexual battery with a minor and French kissing a child under thirteen by an adult may only be initiated “no later than one year after the victim reaches majority, unless the alleged offender of such offense was an adult and more than three years older than the victim at the time of the offense, in which instance such prosecution shall be commenced no later than five years after the victim reaches majority.” Falsifying medical patient records carries a three year limitation period, among the lengthier of the deadlines for Virginia statutes of limitation.
Does the Virginia statute of limitations period govern how long it takes for my case to proceed to trial?
Virginia’s general one year limitation for prosecuting misdemeanors does not mean the case must go to trial within a year (or whatever other applicable limitation period) of the alleged criminal activity; that is a speedy trial argument issue. Instead, the deadline applies to the date that the criminal charge is filed with the court.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against Virginia prosecutions for alleged felony, misdemeanor and DUI violations. Call 703-383-1100 for a free initial in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending criminal or DWI case.