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What is a statute of limitations?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Being accused of any crime is no small matter, but it is important to understand all of the laws involved with the criminal process. One of the most crucial laws is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations determines how much time can have passed between a crime and the prosecution of said crime. The statute of limitations law is different between states. According to FindLaw, West Virginia is one of the states that has no statute of limitations for felony charges.

The idea behind a statute of limitations is to keep state prosecutions in check. These laws prevent officials from putting off charging individuals for too long. It is also important for the evidence in question to be fresh, particularly where eyewitness accounts are concerned. There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations. In the event that the suspect of a crime is not in the state or is otherwise actively avoiding law enforcement, the statute of limitation “clock” is put on pause. In the event that the indictment is somehow missing, the clock is also paused.

In terms of felonies, as stated prior there are no statute of limitation laws in effect for these in West Virginia. However, in the event that the accused is charged with both a felony and a lesser misdemeanor charge and it has been longer than a year since the misdemeanor occured, it is not possible for the accused to be convicted of the misdemeanor charge alone. However, it is possible for the accused to be convicted of both the felony and the misdemeanor or just the felony.