Most states limit the amount of time they give police and prosecutors to file a criminal charge against someone suspected of committing a crime. The reason this is to prevent law enforcement agencies and prosecutors from delaying the filing of charges in order to place the defense attorney representing the accused at a disadvantage.
The more time that elapses from the commission of a crime until a criminal trial is held could lead to witnesses disappearing, evidence being lost or destroyed, or memories of the event fading from the minds of witnesses. Delays also make it more difficult to conduct a criminal defense investigation because of possible changes in the condition of a crime scene with the passage of time.
The statute of limitations sets time limits on pursuing criminal charges against a defendant. If prosecutors fail to bring a case to trial within the time set by law, the case will be dismissed by the judge hearing it.
Unlike other states, Kentucky does not set a different statute of limitations for different types of crimes. Instead, there is no statute of limitations on a felony, and there is a one year statute of limitations on a misdemeanor. For example, battery charges would have no statute of limitations because the crime is a felony, but an assault that is a misdemeanor would have a one-year statute of limitations.
Some states suspend or toll the statute of limitations in situations in which the defendant flees the jurisdiction of the court. Kentucky only tolls the statute of limitations in situations in which the victim of a crime is a minor and the charge is a misdemeanor. Prosecutors have five years from the minor reaching 18 years of age to prosecute the accused.
The information in this post is merely an overview of this area of the law. It is not offered, nor should it be relied upon, as legal advice. A criminal defense attorney should be consulted for legal advice on the statute of limitations.