Statutes of Limitations on Crimes in Illinois

Statutes of Limitations on Crimes in IllinoisA statute of limitations is the amount of time that the government has to prosecute someone for a crime. Statutes of limitations are in place to protect defendants in three ways. First, exonerating evidence may disintegrate over time and witnesses may become unavailable. Second, especially for minor crimes, there should be a period of time where the defendant no longer has to worry about being prosecuted. For example, the government recognizes that a 40-year-old should not be prosecuted for a minor shoplifting incident that happened when they were 18. Finally, if the government has a case against a defendant, they should pursue it; and, as such, statutes of limitations are in place to make sure that the government does not drag their feet. A statute of limitations defense is a complete defense, meaning that if proven, the charge must be dismissed. While these are the general statutes, it is important to remember that like most areas of law, there are always exceptions and specifics. Because of this, if you are charged with a crime you should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help you craft the best defense for your situation.


There are certain events that will pause, or “toll” the statute of limitations; just because the time has passed does not necessarily mean that you are free from prosecution. For example, going into hiding will toll the statute of limitations. If the statute of limitations is three years, but if you go into hiding for a year, then the state will have four years to prosecute you. Statutes of limitations are not intended to reward people who intentionally evade prosecution.

Statutes of Limitations in Illinois

The statute of limitations will depend on the crime; more serious crimes generally have a longer statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations include the following:

  • No time limit – First or second-degree murder, attempt to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit murder, involuntary manslaughter, treason, arson, and forgery.
  • Three years – Most other felonies.
  • One year after a minor turns 18 – Many offenses involving sexual abuse of minors including incestual sexual conduct, child pornography, pimping a minor, and sexual abuse of a minor.
  • 20 years after a victim turns 18 – Criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and not reporting these offenses would be in violation of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
  • 10 years (or two years if reported) – criminal sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
  • Five years after discovery – Hazardous waste violations.
  • 18 months – Misdemeanors.

Contact Our Naperville Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

If you are charged with a crime in Illinois, you should contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to defend you against the charges. Our passionate Naperville criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC will help you decide on the best defenses for your situation.