How Long Does the State of Utah Have to File Criminal Charges?

The amount of time that the State of Utah has to file criminal charges depends on the crime that was allegedly committed. The length of time that the state has to file charges is known as the statute of limitations, and it’s different for each type of crime. If the State of Utah files criminal charges against you within the time set by the statute of limitations, you should seek legal representation immediately. If you or someone close to you is dealing with the threat of criminal charges from the State of Utah, continue reading to learn more about the statute of limitations for various crimes and how a Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney from Overson & Bugden can help you if you are charged.

Statutes of Limitations on Criminal Charges in Utah

The amount of time that the State of Utah has to file criminal charges depends on the crime and other factors, such as whether or not you’ve left the state. If you have reason to believe that you’ll be charged with a crime in Utah, get in touch with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The following are the statute of limitations for common charges made in Utah.

Statute of Limitations for DUI Charges

In Utah, the statute of limitations for DUIs depends on the number of prior offenses. A first or second DUI offense has a statute of limitations of two years; a first or second DUI is a misdemeanor. A third, fourth, or subsequent DUI offense is a felony, and it has a statute of limitations lasting four years. There are exceptions to these statutes of limitations if the defendant leaves the states.

It’s important to note that although there are statutes of limitations in place for DUI charges in Utah, most police officers will file charges immediately following the arrest. Immediately filing charges is due to the nature of the DUI charges. Police will need to show that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above the legal limit while you were driving to get evidence to use against you. (Breathalyzers are one way of showing a BAC, but are less favored than blood tests since they don’t always hold up in court.) Police need a search warrant to get a blood test, which they can only get after a defendant has been arrested.

There are some circumstances in which police will wait to file charges following a DUI. If the DUI happened at the same time as a different serious offense (such as vehicular homicide or a hit and run), police might arrest you when they’re able to arrest you for other charges.

Statute of Limitations for Sex Crime Charges

There are no statutes of limitations for filing charges for most sex crimes in the State of Utah. Offenders can be charged with sex crimes—rape, rape of a child, object rape, object rape of a child, forcible sodomy, sodomy of a child, sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child and aggravated sexual assault—at any time following the time that the crime was committed.

While most sex crimes in Utah have no statute of limitations for filing charges, there are statutes of limitations for a few sex crimes. Unlawful sexual activity with a minor, sexual abuse of a minor, and unlawful sexual contact with a 16- or 17-year old are limited by a statute of limitations of four years.

Statute of Limitations for Theft Charges

Filing charges for theft has a statute of limitations of four years if the charge is a felony and a statute of limitation of two years if it is a misdemeanor. Theft charges in Utah are charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the value of the stolen property. Usually, theft is charged as a misdemeanor if the stolen property was worth less than $1,500. If the stolen property was worth $1,500 or more (or was theft of cattle, livestock, firearms, a vehicle, or theft of services), it would likely be charged as a felony.

Deadlines for Initiating Prosecution by the State of Utah

While statutes of limitations are dependent on the crime, deadlines for initiating prosecution are based on the level of crime. Infractions have one year to begin prosecution, and misdemeanors have two years to begin prosecution, and eight years for incest and forcible sexual abuse.

Prosecution for certain crimes can be initiated at any time, as long as the offender’s identity is unknown. Still, DNA is collected that can identify the offender at a later date. These crimes include aggravated assault, child abuse, terroristic threats, child endangerment, criminal homicide, kidnapping, child kidnapping, rape, aggravated sexual assault, burglary, aggravated burglary, robbery, and aggravated robbery.

Note that statutes of limitations limit the amount of time that the government has to issue a court summons or to file charges and arrest you. The case does not have to be completed within the time limit set by the statute of limitations. There are, however, limitations on how long a trial can last. Statutes of limitations are paused when a person leaves the state, which ultimately gives the state more time to file charges.

Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney

If you believe that you may face criminal charges, speak with an attorney immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney can defend you against the charges and make sure your rights are respected throughout the legal process. The Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys from Overson & Bugden are eager to help Utah residents with their criminal charges. Speak with them to schedule a free consultation by calling (801) 758-2287.