Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is the time period where criminal charges can be filed. Prosecutors have only a certain amount of time to prosecute certain crimes. A statute of limitations begins the moment that the crime is discovered.

The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that criminal cases are handled efficiently and effectively. Additionally, the statute of limitations serves as a time limit for protecting the integrity of the evidence, especially eyewitness testimony.

If you have committed a crime, it is essential that you know the crime’s statute of limitations.

Attorney for Statute of Limitations in Harris County, Texas

The statute of limitations serves as a time limit for prosecutors to file charges. Crimes have varying statute of limitations based on the severity of the offense. Any person, who is currently being investigated for a crime, should seek a skilled criminal defense attorney.

Brian Benken is a attorney in Harris County with a strong focus in criminal defense. He is knowledgeable of the intricacies of Texas criminal law. Attorney Brian Benken will file motions, suppress evidence, and battle for your rights in the courtroom.

The Benken Law Firm accept clients throughout all communities in Harris County including Brays Oaks, Westchase, South Park, and Greenspoint.

Call us now at (713) 223 - 4051 for a free consultation.

Overview for Statute of Limitations in Texas


Statute of Limitations for Felonies in Texas

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure §12.01 outlines the statute of limitations for felony offenses. For most felony offenses, the statute of limitations is three years. The statute of limitations begins on the date of the commission of the offense.

However, there are exceptions to this. Certain crimes will have a longer statute of limitations based on the severity of the offense. The following are crimes with a statute of limitations for five years.

  • Theft;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Robbery;
  • Burglary;
  • Injury to an elderly or disabled individual;
  • Abandoning or endangering a child; or
  • Insurance fraud

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 12.01(3) states that certain crimes will have a statute of limitations of seven years. The following are crimes with a 7-year statute of limitation.

  • Securing execution of document by deception;
  • Felony violation under Tax Code Chapter 162
  • Misapplication of fiduciary property or property of a financial institution;
  • Issuing a false statement to obtain property or credit;
  • Money laundering;
  • Credit card or debit card abuse;
  • Fraudulent use or possession of identifying information;
  • Exploitation of a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual;
  • Medicaid fraud; or
  • Bigamy

Some crimes have a 10-year statute of limitation period from the date of the commission of the offense. The following are the different crimes that have a statute of limitations for ten years.

  • Theft of any estate, real, personal, or mixed, by an executor, administrator, guardian, or trustee with intent to defraud another interested in such estate;
  • Theft by a public servant of government property over which he exercises control in his official capacity;
  • Felony level offense for injury to an elderly or disabled individual;
  • Forgery or the uttering, using, passing of forged instruments;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Arson;
  • Trafficking of person(s); or
  • Compelling prostitution.

In some cases, the statute of limitations can begin on a later day. Certain crimes have a statute of limitations that is 10 years from the 18th birthday of the victim of the offense. This does not mean the alleged offender cannot be criminally charged before the statute of limitations begins. It does give leeway to the victim since the crime happened to him or her at a young age.  These specific crimes include:

  • Trafficking of person(s);
  • Compelling prostitution;
  • Injury to a child;
  • Bigamy if the investigation of the offense shows that the person whom the defendant marries or purports to marry or lives under the appearance of being married is a minor.

Texas states that specific crimes have an extended statute of limitations of 20 years. If the offense shows that the victim is younger than 17 years of age during the offense, then the statute of limitations is 20 years from their 18th birthday.

The following are a few crimes with a 20-year statute of limitations:

  • Aggravated kidnapping;
  • Sexual performance by a child; or
  • Burglary if the offense was committed with the intent to commit sexual assault or conscious sexual assault on a child.

Statute of Limitations for Misdemeanors & Other Crimes in Texas

Texas Criminal Code § 12.02 states the statute of limitation period for misdemeanors. All misdemeanors have a statute of limitations of two years in the state of Texas. The statute of limitation begins on the date of the commission of the offense.

Texas has statute of limitations for other crimes that may be harder to classify. Criminal attempt has the same statute of limitations as the crime attempted. For instance if you attempt robbery, you will have a statute of limitations of five years.

Criminal conspiracy or organized criminal activity has the same statute of limitations as the most serious offense that is the object of that conspiracy. For example, if you criminally conspire to burn down buildings your limitation period will be ten years from the date of the offense.

If you solicit a crime, then the statute of limitations is the same as the crime solicited. An example of this is if you solicited the sexual performance of a child. This means your limitation period will be 20 years starting from the alleged victim’s 18th birthday.

Additionally, if you have committed an aggravated offense, the limitation period will be the same as the primary crime. So a person who commits aggravated burglary will have a five-year limitation period.


Crimes with no Statute of Limitations in Texas

In Texas, some crimes are so heinous that they do not have a statute of limitations. Certain felony offenses listed in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 12.01 are not bound by a statute of limitations including:

  • Murder;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Sexual assault against a child;
  • Aggravated sexual assault against a child;
  • Sexual assault, if:
    • During the investigation of the offense biological matter is collected and subjected to forensic DNA testing and the testing results show that the matter does not match the victim or any other person whose identity is readily ascertained; or
    • Probable cause exists to believe that the defendant has committed the same or similar sexual offense against five or more victims.
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a young child;
  • Indecency with a child;
  • Leaving the scene of the accident if a death occurred;
  • Trafficking a child;
  • Receives a benefit from child trafficking;
  • Engages in sexual conduct with a child who is trafficked;
  • Continuous trafficking of persons; or
  • Compelling prostitution of a child.

Additional Resources

Texas Statute of Limitations – Visit the official website for the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Find more information about felony statute of limitations, misdemeanor statute of limitations, and how they are computed in court.

Texas Criminal Justice Process – Visit a citizen’s guide for the Texas criminal justice process made by the State Bar of Texas Criminal Justice Section. Find more information surrounding the statute of limitations, the rights of defendants, and how criminal cases are resolved.


Houston Lawyer for Statute of Limitations in Texas

Are you currently being investigated for a crime? Do you think the prosecution may file criminal charges against you? If so, it is important that you gain trusted legal representation. A skilled defense attorney can assess your case and fight for your rights.

Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm is knowledgeable about Texas criminal procedures. He has been practicing criminal defense for years, and understands that court can be intimidating. It is his job to make sure you are aware of your legal options and to help you formulate a strong defense. Find a seasoned attorney with Brian Benken.

The Benken Law Firm represents those accused of crimes throughout all communities and neighborhoods in Harris County including Alief, Westbury, Houston Heights, and Greenspoint.

Call Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm or simply submit an online contact form for a free consultation.


This article was last updated on October 4, 2018.

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