A statute of limitations is a time limit by which legal action must be taken for a particular incident. Civil and criminal cases have different statutes, and within these different categories, there are additional statutes depending on the severity of the crime or the infraction. Violent crimes are among the most serious types of criminal acts recognized by the law, so it should come as no surprise that the statutes are rather lengthy for more serious or homicide crimes.
In Louisiana, the criminal statutes are very specific regarding length. The statute depends on the punishment for a crime, but when dealing with homicide and other such violent crimes, there are three classifications that are likely to apply:
- A felonious violent crime not punishable by hard labor has a statute of four years.
- A felonious violent crime for which hard labor is a viable punishment has a statute of six years.
- Felonious violent crimes for which the punishment could be death or life imprisonment, such as first-degree murder, have no statute of limitations.
The statutes exist for a number of reasons, perhaps most notable of which is to preserve the integrity of evidence. Depending on your circumstances, these statutes could become extremely important. If you are accused of a homicide or other violent crime in Louisiana, depending on how long ago the alleged crime took place, you may not even have to defend yourself.
Unfortunately, there are circumstances in which the statute of limitations does not expire or instances in which courts are willing to overlook the statute. This means that even if the statute of limitations should have expired, you may still have to defend yourself in a court of law. If this happens, it is in your best interests to contact an attorney to help you defend yourself from the charges you are facing.