If the government suspect you of committing a crime, then it has a limited period within which it has the legal authority to formally accuse you and prosecute you for the crime (with expectations). This period is known as the statute of limitations, and it varies depending on the:
The Age of the Victim of Your Alleged Act
Children belong to the group of vulnerable members of the society, which means they are easy targets for criminals. This makes sense because children are very gullible and cannot defend themselves in a variety of situations. Even the society, in general, takes crimes against children very seriously. This is why crimes against children tend to receive harsher punishment than crimes against adults. It is also for this reason that crimes against children tend to attract longer statutes of limitations that crimes against children. Don't forget that children may also fail to report or even recognize crime as fast as adults; the extra time takes care of that lapse.
Your Actions After the Alleged Act
Your actions after the alleged act may also determine how long you have before a criminal case cannot be brought against you. For example, those who conceal their crimes will have an effectively longer statute of limitations. This will be the case because the counting will start from the day your crime was discovered. For example, if you are accused of stealing money from an elderly person you are taking care of, and the victim doesn't realize the theft for a couple of years, the government may start counting the statute of limitations after that two years.
The Seriousness of Your Alleged Crime
The seriousness of the alleged crime is also one of the factors that determine the statute of limitations. This makes sense since some crimes are so heinous that the state doesn't want their perpetrators to escape justice in any way. In fact, some serious crimes, such as murder, don't have statutes of limitations in some states.
The Applicable State Laws
Lastly, you should know that states have the authority to determine the statute of limitations for state crimes. Therefore, the law of the state in which the alleged crime was committed is also another factor that determines its statute of limitations. For example, a criminal misdemeanor attracts a statute of limitations of 2 years and in Georgia and Idaho respectively.
As you can see, you should not just assume that you are safe prosecution just because some time has passed since the date of your alleged act. The best way to avoid a criminal prosecution or conviction is to consult a criminal defense lawyer. Contact a firm, like Law Office of Rex M. Pietrobono, for more help.