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There is no statute of limitations on murder

Some of you may have heard the term statute of limitations used in reference to personal injury cases but did you know that there are criminal statutes of limitations as well? Much like tort law statutes of limitations, which put a time limit on when compensation can be sought from a negligent party, criminal statutes of limitations prevent prosecutors from charging someone with a crime after a specified number of years have passed.

But as one case will show our California readers, not all crimes come with a statute of limitations meaning no matter how many years have passed, you may still face prosecution and potential litigation as well.

Some of you may remember the 1991 case of Timothy Wiltsey. The then 5-year-old boy is believed to have gone missing while attending a carnival with his mother. His story grabbed national attention and sparked discussions about who could have taken the boy.

Although some people in the boy's hometown suspected the mother, prosecutors had little more than circumstantial evidence against her and were unable to charge her with any crime. But that changed this month when the now 47-year-old mother of two was arrested in Florida and charged with the murder of her son Timothy.

Though it's unclear from reports what suddenly prompted the charges after nearly two decades, it's important to point out that murder is considered a serious enough crime in which there is no statute of limitations for prosecution. It's because of this and the age of the case that the woman may want to seek the help of a skilled attorney, especially considering what is at stake if she is convicted.

Sources: The New York Times, "Arrest in New Jersey Boy’s Death Stirs Memories, but Mysteries Remain," Marc Santora and Nate Schweber, Aug. 8, 2014, "Time Limits for Charges: State Criminal Statutes of Limitations," Accessed Aug. 13, 2014

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