Usually, Yes, there is a deadline to bring a criminal charge in Texas. A “time limit” to bring a criminal charge against a person is called a “statute of limitations”. This is the legal phrase that refers to how many years a person has before he or she is no longer allowed to charge someone with a crime. It is essentially a lawsuit expiration date. Statutes of limitations are found in all forms of lawsuits, including personal injury cases and the like. The statute of limitations that applies to Texas criminal charges is as follows:
For: Murder, Rape and Other Serious Charges
There is NO TIME LIMIT for murder, manslaughter, (certain kinds of) sexual assault, aggravated assault, sexual abuse, indecency with a child, or leaving the scene of an accident.
For: Theft, Fraud, Forgery, Arson
There is a 10 YEAR LIMIT for the following felonies: theft of an estate with intent to defraud, forgery, (certain kinds of) injury to an elderly or disabled person, (certain kinds of ) sexual assault, and arson.
For: “White Collar” Crimes
There is a 7 YEAR LIMIT for the following felonies: misapplication of fiduciary property or property of a financial institution, executing a document by deception, tax code violations under Chapter 162, false statement to obtain credit, money laundering, credit card abuse, and fraudulent use of identifying information.
For: Felony Robbery, Kidnapping, Burglary
There is a 5 YEAR LIMIT for the following felonies: theft, robbery, (certain kinds of) kidnapping, (certain kinds of) burglary, (certain kinds of) injury to elderly, abandoning or endangering a child and insurance fraud.
Though this is not an exhaustive list, it outlines generally what types of expiration dates our Texas Penal Code requires. People charged can attempt to argue that their crime was brought outside of the statute of limitations if the charging instrument bears a date which is too remote to fall within the time limit that the State has to bring the charge. One would request a motion to dismiss the case because it is outside the statute, or would file a motion to quash the charging instrument, stating that the date does not meet requirements set out by the State.
“On or About”
It should be noted that the date on the charging document does not need to be absolutely accurate. The words “on or about” precede the date so that slight inaccuracies are accepted. In certain circumstances, the State can request a “tolling” of the statute as well, which is asking for an extension of time. I recommend you to call a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney so that you could learn whether your statute of limitations has run. Call the Criminal Defense Cook & Cook Law Firm Today! (210) 271-2800.