What Crimes Have No Statute of Limitations in Texas?
A statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time one has to bring a claim to court. Both civil and criminal cases in Texas have a statutes of limitation. In the criminal court system, the statute of limitations puts a deadline on how long the prosecution has to press charges against a defendant. After the time has passed, no one can prosecute the person for the alleged crime. Crimes come with 2- to 10-year statutes of limitations in Texas depending on the offense. Four types of crimes, however, have no time limits.
Murder and Manslaughter
According to the Texas Penal Code Section 19.01, murder, or criminal homicide, is the intentional act of causing the death of another person, knowingly, recklessly, or by criminal negligence. Criminally negligent homicide, criminal homicide, murder, manslaughter, and capital murder all do not have statutes of limitations in Texas.
Allegedly taking someone else’s life will put the defendant at lifelong risk of prosecution, regardless of how much time has passed. A similar lack of a statute of limitations on murder cases in California is what allowed the state to try 73-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo in 2018 for murders he allegedly committed from 1975 to 1986 under the nickname the Golden State Killer.
Sexual Assault/Offenses Against Young Children
Sexual assault according to the definition in Section 22.011 of the Penal Code does not have a statute of limitations in Texas: intentionally or knowingly penetrating the sexual organ, anus, or mouth of the victim without that person’s consent, or sexual assault against a child. Aggravated sexual assault also does not have a statute of limitations; nor does continuous sexual abuse of a young child or indecency with a child.
If the prosecution tests DNA related to the sexual assault crime, and test results show it does not match the victim (or another party involved in the case), sexual assault cases in Texas do not have statutes of limitations. The same is true if the prosecution has probable cause to believe the defendant has committed similar sexual offenses against five or more people.
Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Accident
Section 550.021 of Texas’ Transportation Code makes it illegal for a driver to leave the scene of an accident resulting in the personal injury or death of a person. The driver must immediately stop the vehicle and remain at the scene of the accident, or immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle did not stop, and remain at the scene until the driver has rendered aid and given information. Fleeing the scene where someone has died is a felony, and can result in imprisonment for up to five years. No statute of limitations exists in fatal hit-and-run cases in Texas.
Trafficking of Persons
Penal Code Section 20A.01 defines trafficking of persons as knowingly transporting, recruiting, harboring, enticing, or otherwise obtaining a person with the intent of forcing that person into labor or services. Someone may have committed this offense if that person trafficks someone else and receives a benefit from doing so – including receiving the labor or services of the trafficked individual. The law includes provisions on sex trafficking, trafficking of children, continuous sexual abuse, coercion, and more.
Trafficking of persons is a serious crime – a first-degree felony in Texas. The penalties for a conviction of this crime include a minimum of 25 years in prison, or imprisonment for life (99 years). It does not matter how much time has passed from the alleged trafficking crime. In Texas, the prosecution retains the right to press charges against an alleged perpetrator long after the actual crime occurred. If you need a local and trusted defense attorney’s help for a crime you allegedly committed, contact a local law office immediately upon hearing of the charges. For some crimes, it is never too late for the state to prosecute you.