In Colorado and the United States, defendants have the right to due process. This includes the right to a speedy and fair trial. When a crime is committed, it needs to be prosecuted within a certain amount of time. If prosecution becomes drawn out, it’s more difficult for the defendant to prove their innocence. Evidence that could demonstrate their innocence may disappear if too much time passes.
A statute of limitations defines this pivotal period of time.
Each crime carries a statute of limitations, including theft crimes. Here’s what you need to know about the statute of limitations associated with theft crimes in Colorado.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
After a crime accusation, prosecutors must work within a legal time frame to file charges. Some crimes have no limit while others have a very small window.
The statute of limitations countdown generally begins when the crime is committed. In cases of theft, however, the statute of limitations clock does not start until discovery. For instance, if someone steals an expensive piece of jewelry from your home, it may take awhile to notice. When you officially report it as stolen, the statute of limitations commences for that theft.
Statute of Limitations for Theft Crimes in CO
The length of a statute of limitations depends on the severity of the crime committed. For example, murder has no statute of limitation. Public indecency, on the other hand, calls for just six months as its statute of limitations.
In the case of theft, the statute of limitations differs by the type. These categories of theft require the following statutes of limitations:
- Petty Theft – Six months after the discovery of the offense
- Misdemeanor Theft – 18 months after the discovery of the offense
- Felony Theft – Three years after the discovery of the offense
If you are under the statute of limitations for a crime that you committed, consult with an experienced attorney.
Alternatively, if you’re charged with a crime several years after its occurrence, you may feel confused since so much time has passed. You may need an attorney to guide you through the charges. Either way, you must understand the charges to fight them, so make sure to get an attorney on your side.
Eventually, crimes tend to catch up with the people who commit them. Grave crimes can be prosecuted decades after they occurred. Even less serious charges must adhere to their statute of limitations.
The law wants to give people a fair shot when they’re accused, but justice competes as a priority. The statute of limitations tries to balance fairness toward the defendant with the interests of society as a whole.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.