The statute of limitations is the period of time after an offense in which a person can be prosecuted for that offense.
If the statute of limitations has expired - meaning that too much time has passed since the alleged offense date - you cannot be prosecuted for that offense.
A prosecution for a capital felony, a life felony, or a felony that resulted in a death may be commenced at any time.
Generally, crimes follow these statutory limitations:
A prosecution for a felony of the first degree must be commenced within 4 years after it is committed.
A prosecution for any other felony must be commenced within 3 years after it is committed.
A prosecution for a misdemeanor of the first degree must be commenced within 2 years after it is committed.
A prosecution for a misdemeanor of the second degree or a noncriminal violation must be commenced within 1 year after it is committed.
However, several offenses have statutory exceptions from the normal time period. For example, many sex offense prosecutions may be commenced within 1 year after the date on which the identity of the accused is established, or should have been established by the exercise of due diligence, through the analysis of DNA evidence.