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Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Michigan Criminal Law Statute of Limitations

The Michigan statute of limitations on crimes is found at MCL 767.24. It provides different periods of limitation based upon the crime as follows: 767.24 Indictments; finding and filing; limitations; extension or tolling.

(1) An indictment for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit murder, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, or a violation of the Michigan anti-terrorism act, MCL 750.543a to 750.543z, or a violation of MCL 750.200 to 750.212a, that is punishable by life imprisonment may be found and filed at any time.
(2) An indictment for a violation or attempted violation of section 145c, 520c, 520d, 520e, or 520g of the Michigan penal code, MCL 750.145c, 750.520c, 750.520d, 750.520e, and 750.520g, may be found and filed as follows:(a) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (b), an indictment may be found and filed within 10 years after the offense is committed or by the alleged victim’s twenty-first birthday, whichever is later.

(b) If evidence of the violation is obtained and that evidence contains DNA that is determined to be from an unidentified individual, an indictment against that individual for the offense may be found and filed at any time after the offense is committed. However, after the individual is identified, the indictment may be found and filed within 10 years after the individual is identified or by the alleged victim’s twenty-first birthday, whichever is later.

(c) As used in this subsection:

(i) “DNA” means human deoxyribonucleic acid.

(ii) “Identified” means the individual’s legal name is known and he or she has been determined to be the source of the DNA.

(3) An indictment for kidnapping, extortion, assault with intent to commit murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, or first-degree home invasion may be found and filed as follows:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (b), an indictment may be found and filed within 10 years after the offense is committed.

(b) If the offense is reported to a police agency within 1 year after the offense is committed and the individual who committed the offense is unknown, an indictment for that offense may be found and filed within 10 years after the individual is identified. This subsection shall be known and may be cited as Brandon D’Annunzio’s law. As used in this subsection, “identified” means the individual’s legal name is known.

(4) An indictment for identity theft or attempted identity theft may be found and filed as follows:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (b), an indictment may be found and filed within 6 years after the offense is committed.

(b) If evidence of the violation is obtained and the individual who committed the offense has not been identified, an indictment may be found and filed at any time after the offense is committed, but not more than 6 years after the individual is identified.

(c) As used in this subsection:

(i) “Identified” means the individual’s legal name is known.

(ii) “Identity theft” means 1 or more of the following:

(A) Conduct prohibited in section 5 or 7 of the identity theft protection act, 2004 PA 452, MCL 445.65 and 445.67.

(B) Conduct prohibited under former section 285 of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328.

(5) An indictment for false pretenses involving real property, forgery or uttering and publishing of an instrument affecting an interest in real property, or mortgage fraud may be found and filed within 10 years after the offense was committed or within 10 years after the instrument affecting real property was recorded, whichever occurs later.

(6) All other indictments may be found and filed within 6 years after the offense is committed.

(7) Any period during which the party charged did not usually and publicly reside within this state is not part of the time within which the respective indictments may be found and filed.

(8) The extension or tolling, as applicable, of the limitations period provided in this section applies to any of those violations for which the limitations period has not expired at the time the extension or tolling takes effect.

The different periods are indefinitely, ten years, and six years. Note well that there are situations where the statute can be extended or tolled.

An essential element of contention when considering the criminal statute of limitations is the necessity of an “indictment”. According to Black’s Law Dictionary Sixth Edition, an indictment is a formal written accusation originating with a prosecutor and issued by a grand jury against a party charged with a crime. Furthermore, the sole purpose of the indictment is to identify the defendant’s alleged offense. Practically speaking, an “information” is used rather than an indictment. The information is an accusation in the nature of an indictment, but differs only in being presented by a public prosecutor, without the intervention of the grand jury.

A situation arose in October 2007 wherein the defendant was arrested for an incident that occurred in 1996. The defense counsel filed an appearance and requested the Complaint and Information, however, merely an incident report was provided. There was no information. The argument made by the defense was that the statute of limitations had run based upon MCL 767.24(5). The prosecution’s counter argument that the charge was timely was faulty because an incident report is not an indictment or an information and is not tantamount to a formal written accusation. The case was dismissed.

Defense counsel should be well-aware of the statute of limitations and argue this at the pretrial/preliminary hearing. Furthermore, it is generally ill-advised to accept any kind of plea agreement, as witnesses in old cases are unlikely to appear and/or have a detailed memory of the events and circumstances of the crime – don’t back down.

This article was originally published on November 3, 2007. It has been updated and republished, and is current as of September 2, 2014.

Discussion:

  1. Worried Fiancee says:

    My fiance received a notice stating there was a warrant for his arrest for unemployment fraud. We went to the court the very next day. They said it was from 2009-2010. Also, they said he had to post $2000 bail and come to court 6/9/15. The investigator convinced him that there is no point in getting a lawyer nor can he get a court appointed attorney because he makes too much money (which is absurd). We’re getting married this year, but if he has to pay the $4800 they’re requesting we will have to cancel. Plus he is a federal employee and this could affect his employment. What should we do?

    • Dear Worried Fiance:

      In my view, everyone charged with a felony should defend until they have a chance to assess the evidence against them and are comfortable with the plea offer presented. Felonies stay on the record forever, unless expunged. Therefore, they should consider pleading not guilty and requesting an attorney be appointed. Upon request for a court-appointed attorney, the judge will ask about income and usually based on only the defendant’s word, make an immediate decision on whether eligible for the state to pay.

  2. Living in NC says:

    I lived in Michigan until Nov. 2007; then moved back to my home state. I found out that a warrant was issued in 2009 for something when I was not even in the state at that time. Everybody keeps telling me to turn myself in or hire an attorney. I have proof showing it wasn’t me but can’t afford an attorney or to turn myself in any help would be appreciated.

  3. What if a person writes a check at their local super market for a good amount of money, with intent to pay. The person brought the products home, most of it being food, but doesn’t deposit a check timely to cover the debt. They do no paid the overdrawn balance. Is this a crime? If so, is there a statute of limitations on it?

    • Dear Vanessa:

      At the time that the person discovers they cannot pay and does nothing about it, the elements of a crime are perfected, and they may be prosecuted within 6 years.

  4. I was charged in 1991 with larceny by conversion over $100.00 and was sentenced to 5 years probation among other things. I served my time in jail, but did not finish my probation. I was picked up 2003 for this charge and held in jail, but never went to court. I was let out with a bond. Now, it is 2015 and I was picked up again on this same charge and held jail without bonding out, and had a hearing 6 days later. Is there not a statue of limitation for this charge? How long does the probation officer have to bring it up in front of a judge? I am still being charged for the restitution and fines for this.

    • Dear Angela:

      I recommend requesting a court-appointed attorney who can make a solid argument that the delay has violated your Due Process rights. Each case is evaluated individually. The courts consider the length of delay, the reason for delay, the defendant’s assertion of the right to a speedy trial, and the prejudice to the defendant. United States v. Louzon, 392 F. Supp. 1220 (ED Mich. 1975).

  5. What is the statute of limitations on using someone’s identity.

    • Dear Bobby:

      According to Subsection (4) above, an indictment for identity theft or attempted identity theft may be found and filed within 6 years after the offense is committed or the individual is identified.

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