22 - If the incident happened a very long time ago, how can the State bring charges against me now?
In order to charge someone with an offense within the state of Arizona, the offense must have occurred within the statutes of limitations. The timeframe for the statute of limitations varies depending upon the nature of the offense. For example, misdemeanor offenses must be charged within one year if their actual discovery. Many sexual offenses do not have a statute of limitations and therefore can be filed by the state at any time. Additionally, for those offenses which have an applicable statute of limitations period, the time does not begin to run until law enforcement has discovered that the crime was committed. See Arizona Revised Statutes 13-107 for details.
13-107. Time limitations
A. A prosecution for any homicide, any offense that is listed in chapter 14 or 35.1 of this title and that is a class 2 felony, any violent sexual assault pursuant to section 13-1423, any violation of section 13-2308.01, any misuse of public monies or a felony involving falsification of public records or any attempt to commit an offense listed in this subsection may be commenced at any time.
B. Except as otherwise provided in this section, prosecutions for other offenses must be commenced within the following periods after actual discovery by the state or the political subdivision having jurisdiction of the offense or discovery by the state or the political subdivision that should have occurred with the exercise of reasonable diligence, whichever first occurs:
1. For a class 2 through a class 6 felony, seven years.
2. For a misdemeanor, one year.
3. For a petty offense, six months.
C. For the purposes of subsection B of this section, a prosecution is commenced when an indictment, information or complaint is filed.
D. The period of limitation does not run during any time when the accused is absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode within the state.
E. The period of limitation does not run for a serious offense as defined in section 13-706 during any time when the identity of the person who commits the offense or offenses is unknown.
F. The time limitation within which a prosecution of a class 6 felony shall commence shall be determined pursuant to subsection B, paragraph 1 of this section, irrespective of whether a court enters a judgment of conviction for or a prosecuting attorney designates the offense as a misdemeanor.
G. If a complaint, indictment or information filed before the period of limitation has expired is dismissed for any reason, a new prosecution may be commenced within six months after the dismissal becomes final even if the period of limitation has expired at the time of the dismissal or will expire within six months of the dismissal.