The Texas Penal Code and Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations are specific laws within the Texas Penal Code that detail how long the government has to bring charges against you. Understanding how statutes of limitations work is important, especially for those who have been charged for a crime based on conduct that occurred years ago, if at all. At Guest & Gray, we have specific experience successfully using statutes of limitations defenses and know how to convince prosecutors and judges that it’s too late to charge you with a crime.

How the Texas Penal Code Defines Statute of Limitations

In Texas, the statute of limitations is primarily outlined in Chapter 12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. This chapter provides detailed information regarding the time limits applicable to different types of criminal cases.

For felony offenses, the statute of limitations typically ranges from three to ten years, depending on the specific offense committed. On the other hand, the statute of limitations for most misdemeanors is generally set at two years.

Different Types of Criminal Cases and Their Statute of Limitations in Texas

Understanding the specific time limits imposed by the statute of limitations is crucial for both prosecutors and defense attorneys in Texas. It allows them to determine whether a criminal case can proceed based on the date of the alleged offense.

Statute of Limitations for Felonies in Texas

In Texas, the statute of limitations for felony offenses varies depending on the gravity of the crime and other factors outlined in the Texas penal code. Some serious offenses, such as murder and sexual assault, do not have a statute of limitations. This means that charges can be filed at any time, even years or decades after the crime was committed.

However, for most other felony offenses, including robbery, burglary, and drug-related crimes, the statute of limitations ranges from three to ten years.

Robbery: The offense of robbery, which involves the use or threat of force to commit theft, generally carries a five-year statute of limitations in Texas.

Burglary: The act of unlawfully entering a building with the intent to commit a felony or theft is classified as burglary. The statute of limitations for burglary in Texas is set at seven years.

Drug Crimes: The statute of limitations for drug-related offenses can vary depending on the specific offense and the quantity of drugs involved. Generally, the time limit ranges from three to five years.

Statute of Limitations for Misdemeanors in Texas

Unlike felonies, misdemeanor offenses in Texas have a shorter statute of limitations. Most misdemeanors carry a two-year time limit for prosecution, offering a relatively brief window for legal action.

Some common misdemeanor offenses in Texas include driving under the influence (DUI), petty theft, and simple assault.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Texas

While the statute of limitations sets clear time limits for criminal prosecutions, certain exceptions may extend or eliminate these limitations in Texas.

Crimes with No Statute of Limitations

As previously mentioned, some serious offenses, such as murder and sexual assault, are not subject to the statute of limitations in Texas. This means that the state can bring charges against an individual at any time, regardless of when the crime was committed.

It is important to note that these exceptions exist due to the severe nature of these crimes and the public interest in ensuring that justice is served, even if years or decades have passed since the offense.

Circumstances that Can Extend the Statute of Limitations

In certain situations, the statute of limitations may be extended beyond the standard time limits established by law. One such circumstance is when new evidence emerges that directly implicates an individual in a crime.

If evidence is discovered after the original statute of limitations has expired, prosecutors may still be able to pursue charges based on the newly acquired evidence.

The statute of limitations plays a crucial role in determining the timeliness of criminal prosecutions in Texas. It establishes time limits within which legal proceedings must be initiated, balancing the need for justice with practical considerations. Understanding the specific provisions within the Texas penal code and the exceptions that may apply is essential for both prosecutors and defense attorneys. By comprehending the intricacies of the statute of limitations, we can navigate the complexities of criminal cases in Texas more effectively.

Are You Facing Criminal Charges in Forney, TX?

If you were recently charged with a criminal offense that allegedly occurred years ago, it’s possible that the prosecution missed its window to charge you. At the Forney, TX, criminal defense firm of Guest & Gray, we are here to help. With decades of experience handling almost every type of case imaginable, we’ve successfully resolved countless cases based on the prosecution’s late filing of charges. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give one of our Dallas County criminal defense attorneys a call at 972-564-4644 or reach out through our online contact form.


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