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Statutes of Limitation for Crimes

Adult Criminal Records

In some cases, you cannot clear or seal your criminal history so long as there is a chance of conviction. No charges can take place after the statute of limitations has passed.

In some cases, you cannot clear or seal your criminal history so long as there is a chance of conviction. No charges can take place once the statute of limitations time period has passed.

Different crimes have different statutes of limitations. Also, certain events can pause the statute of limitations.

Note that Texas law commonly uses the terms indictment and information to refer to the act of bringing criminal charges.

What is a statute of limitation?

A statute of limitation is a time period, set by law, during which the government can charge you for a crime. You cannot be charged for a crime once that time period has passed.

When does a statute of limitation start?

A statute of limitation usually starts counting down on the date of the alleged crime.

Exceptions include certain crimes against children, which start when the child turns 18. Also, the statute of limitation for lying about the identity of an egg or sperm donor starts at the time the crime is discovered.

How long do statutes of limitation last?

It depends on the crime and whether the statute of limitations is tolled. For example, a statute of limitations pauses when you are charged and does not start again until charges are dismissed. Also, time spent outside of Texas does not count toward the statute of limitation for most crimes. 

See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 12.01 for a full list of crimes and their statutes of limitation.

Here is a shortened list:

Two years: All misdemeanors

Two years after the crime is discovered: A medical professional lying about the identity of an egg or sperm donor

Five years: 

  • Most felony robbery and theft crimes
  • Child endangerment
  • Insurance fraud

Seven years:

  • Most financial fraud, other than insurance fraud
  • Identity theft 
  • Bigamy

10 years:

  • Forgery
  • Arson
  • Lesser sexual assault charges
  • Injury to an elderly or disabled person resulting in bodily injury

10 years from a minor victim's 18th birthday:

  • Human trafficking
  • Injury to a child
  • Bigamy

20 years from a minor victim's 18th birthday:

  • Sexual performance of a child
  • Aggravated burglary with the intent to commit sexual assault
  • Kidnapping with the intent to commit sexual assault

No limitation:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Nonconsensual sexual assault with penetration
  • Sex crimes involving children
  • Compelling prostitution

Three years: Felonies not listed in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 12.01

What does it mean to toll a statute of limitation?

"Tolling" extends a statute of limitation based on some event. There are two main ways to toll a statute of limitation in Texas.

  • Charges brought: The statute of limitation pauses when you are charged (when the government brings an indictment or information). It does not start counting down again until charges are dismissed.
  • Leaving Texas: Any time spent outside of Texas does not count toward the statute of limitation.