Crimes Without Statute of Limitations in California
A statute of limitations (otherwise referred to as SOL) is the maximum amount of time for which a prosecutor can file criminal charges for a crime. Some crimes in the state of California have no limitations on filing. California’s Penal Code 799 PC says that for certain crimes, charges may be brought against a person at any time, no matter when the crime occurred.
Crimes Punishable by Death
Under California Penal Code 799 PC, any criminal offense that is punishable by death will have no statute of limitations. The prosecutor may file charges for these crimes at any time. These crimes include:
First-degree murder with special circumstances, such as:
- Murder in which the defendant has a prior conviction for first- or second-degree murder
- Murder for financial gain
- Murder committed using explosives/bomb
- Murder of multiple people
- Murder of a prosecutor, judge, juror, or elected official in retaliation
- Murder to evade capture or arrest
- Murder committed because of the victim’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion
- Murder committed to prevent a witness from testifying
- Murder of a police officer or firefighter on duty
- Murder committed while committing another felony
- Murder committed to support a criminal street gang
- Murder committed during a drive-by shooting
- Any other murder that is particularly cruel or heinous
- Assault with a deadly weapon resulting in death while serving a life sentence
- Sabotaging a train and causing another person to be killed
- Committing perjury for the purpose of causing an innocent person to be convicted and executed
- Intentionally interfering with state preparations to go to war, resulting in another’s death
Crimes Punishable by Imprisonment in State Prison for Life or Life Without Parole
Criminal offenses committed in California that are punishable by life imprisonment or life imprisonment without parole are also not subject to a statute of limitations. These crimes include:
- First-degree murder
- Rape (if the defendant has a prior conviction of rape)
- Sexual penetration (if the defendant tortured the victim while committing the crime)
- Lewd or lascivious acts (if the defendant committed the crime during a burglary)
Crimes of Embezzlement of Public Money
Another type of crime in California that has no statute of limitations are crimes of embezzlement of public money. Embezzling public money in California is a felony. A defendant who is convicted of embezzlement of public money may have increased fines and penalties imposed upon them. This may include repayment of the stolen money, as well as two to four years in prison. Furthermore, a person convicted of embezzlement of public money can never run for any office in state or local government.
What Are Statutes of Limitation for Other Crimes in California?
Any crime not listed in California Penal Code 700 PC will have a statue of limitations. The statute of limitations is different for different crimes. Usually, the SOL for an offense varies with the severity of the crime.
Under California Penal Code 800 PC, any crime punishable by eight or more years of imprisonment has a statute of limitation of six years.
Under California Penal Code 801 PC, any felony or crime punishable by imprisonment has a statute of limitations of three years.
Less severe criminal charges involving misdemeanors usually have a statute of limitations of one year.
Some crimes in California may be classified as wobblers. These crimes are ones that a prosecutor can charge in California as a misdemeanor or as a felony. The SOL for these crimes will vary depending upon how the prosecutor decides to charge the crime.
What Is the Purpose of Statute of Limitations?
The purpose of having a statute of limitations is to make sure that the defendant is charged fairly. Over time, evidence may be lost or destroyed. Witnesses to crimes may be difficult to locate after a few years, or their memory of the crime might not be intact. Because of these factors, it is unfair to pursue certain criminal charges against someone after a specific period of time has passed.