Indiana Statute of Limitations
The phrase statute of limitations refers to a specific statute in a criminal code that defines the period during which legal action may take place. Indiana’s statute of limitations for criminal cases is outlined in Indiana Code 35-41-4-2, while the statute of limitations for other matters of law, like debt and personal injury, is located in Indiana Code 34-11-2. While these two areas of the law may seem straightforward, they’re actually quite complex. Indiana’s statute of limitations for criminal code is voluminous and full of nuance, which makes it challenging to understand. Therefore, if you’re trying to figure out whether or not an offense falls within the statute of limitations, you would be best served by speaking with an experienced Indiana attorney. To speak with one today, feel free to call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
What are the Statute of Limitations in Indiana?
As stated previously, Indiana’s statute of limitations for criminal cases can be found in Indiana Code 35-41-4-2. This section of the law outlines the “periods of limitation” for all misdemeanor and felony offenses, as well as specific circumstances for certain crimes, such as certain sex crimes and murder. For other matters of law, like personal injury, debt, child support obligations, recovery of certain costs, written contracts, and employment-related actions, the statute of limitations can be found in Indiana Code 34-11-2.
Generally, per Indiana Code 35-41-4-2, prosecution for an offense is forbidden unless it is commenced within five years after the commission of a Level 3, 4, 5, or 6 Felony offense. For misdemeanor offenses, the statute of limitations is two years after the commission of the offense. While these periods of limitations are rather clear, there are some exceptions to this law.
First, the prosecution for a Level 3, 4, or 5 felonies that would otherwise be barred by Indiana’s statute of limitations may be commenced within one year of first discovering new evidence that is sufficient to charge the offender with the offense through DNA analysis; or within one year of when that new evidence could have been discovered; whichever is earlier.
Secondly, prosecution for a handful of Indiana sex crimes that would otherwise be barred by this law can be commenced at any time before the date that the alleged victim reaches the age of 31. These sex crimes include:
- Child Molesting
- Vicarious Sexual Gratification
- Child Solicitation
- Child Seduction
- Sexual Misconduct with a Minor
Excluding crimes classified as a Level 1 or Level 2 Felony or listed above, the statute of limitations for any crime committed against a child that requires a person to register as a sex offender in Indiana is 10 years following the commission of the offense; or within four years after the person ceases to be dependent of the alleged offender, whichever occurs later. In addition, prosecution for the Level 3 Felony offense of rape, must be commenced within five years after the date of first discovering new evidence that is sufficient to charge the offender with the offense through DNA analysis; or within one year of when that new evidence could have been discovered; whichever is earlier.
Finally, Indiana’s statutes of limitations do not apply in any way to various types of accused offenders, including those who are not usually or publicly residents in Indiana, those who conceal themselves so that process cannot be served, or those who have concealed evidence of the offense and that evidence is sufficient to charge the person, provided the evidence is unknown to the prosecution and could not have been discovered by the prosecution. Furthermore, if the accused offender is a person of elected or appointed office and the offense charged is theft or conversion of public funds or bribery while in office, the prosecution of those crimes may commence at any time.
Motions to Dismiss Charges based on the Statute of Limitations.
When an Indiana criminal defense attorney feels that the best defense strategy is to prove an affirmative defense showing their client’s alleged offenses occurred outside of the Indiana statute of limitations, they begin by filing a motion to dismiss the charges. Once filed, the burden of proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt shift from the prosecution to the defendant. This means it’s now up to the defendant and their attorney to prove that the offense occurred outside of the statute of limitations. This defense strategy can be challenging though. It requires careful attention to detail, a very thorough investigation of the case, and experience in criminal defense litigation. Given this, if one hopes to employ this defense strategy, it would be wise to retain the services to best Indianapolis defense attorney possible. To speak with one today, feel free to call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our team of former deputy prosecutors stand ready to help you understand the legal context of the case against you, and how the statute of limitations may apply to your defense strategy.
Statute of Limitations for Debt and Other Matters of Civil Law
When it comes to the statute of limitations for civil action, one should refer to Indiana Code 34-11-2. This chapter of Indiana law outlines the time period in which one can file lawsuits regarding matters of debt, child support obligations, recovery of certain costs, employment-related actions, etc.
The Indiana statute of limitations for debt is located in three areas of this chapter. First, Indiana Code 34-11-2-7 allows for a six-year statute of limitations for actions on accounts and contracts not in writing; actions for use, rents, and profits of real property; actions for injuries to property other than person property, damage for the detention of personal property, and for recovering the possession of personal property; and actions for relief against frauds. Secondly, Indiana Code 34-11-2-9 provides a six-year statute of limitation on civil actions involving promissory notes, bills of exchange, deposit accounts, or other written contracts for the payment of money. Finally, Indiana Code 34-11-2-11 allows for a 10-year period of limitation for actions on written contracts, other than those for the payment of money, including most mortgages, deeds of trust, judgments of courts of record, and the recovery of the possession of real estate.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases
Per Indiana Code 34-11-2-4, when a person, character, or personal property is injured, any action taken to recover damages must be commenced within two years of the cause of the action. This means that if someone was in a car accident on December 2nd, 2022, and would like to seek damages for both their own personal injury as well as injury to their motor vehicle, that person would need to file their action prior to December 2nd, 2024. Furthermore, in the state of Indiana, a person can file a civil action for injuries resulting from sexual abuse as a child. These types of actions must be commenced within seven years of the date the abuse occurred or four years after the person ceases to be a dependent of the person alleged to have performed the sexual abuse, whichever is later.
Need to Speak with an Attorney Today?
If you’re having trouble understanding the Indiana statute of limitations and how it may apply to either criminal or civil legal matters, feel free to contact an Indianapolis attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP. We employ a team of some of the most experienced and skilled criminal defense attorneys in Indiana. They have a keen understanding of the statute of limitations for criminal offenses, and how to properly raise a sound affirmative defense by filing a motion to dismiss the charges against you.
If you would like to speak with an attorney today, feel free to 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free case consultation. Our criminal defense team stands ready to provide you with sound legal advice regarding the Indiana statute of limitations and how it may relate to any relevant legal matters at hand.