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.

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