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Statute of Limitation


Chris Dec. 17, 2021

Statutes of limitation require criminal charges and civil actions to be brought against a person withing a certain period of time. While certain charges, such as murder, do not have a limitiation in Connecticut, most criminal offenses do. Misdemeanors (crimes punishable by up to a year in jail) typically must be prosecuted within a year from their commission (again, I saw typically, because there are certain charges that have longer limitation periods). The commencement of a prosecution is either an arrest (if there is no warrant) or the date a warrant is issued. The issuance of a warrant by a court satisifies the statute if is is served (the defendant is arrested) without undue delay. The statute is also tolled if a defendant flees the jurisdiction (state) or is otherwise evasive. 

I recently had a client who was charged with domestic violence misdemeanors. The police obtained a warrant in November 2019 but did not arrest hium until February 2021, approximately 15 months. The statute of limitations was one year for those charges. The client was arrested outside of that time period. We filed a motion to dismiss. In this situation, it is on the defendant to establish that he or she was available to be arrested and then the burden shifts to the State to demonstrate that the delay was justified. We showed that he lived at the same address--the one that was on the warrant and where he was actually apprehended. The State did not introduce evidence of the police attempting to serve the warrant but argued that the pandemic should justify the delay. I pointed out that, unlike the civil statutes of limitation, criminal statutes were not suspended by Gov. Lamont's emergency orders. The Court granted our motion and dismissed the case.

You've probably heard the expression SOL. It was the State that was SOL in my client's case.