Home Law Statute of Limitation on Theft (All You Need To Know)

Statute of Limitation on Theft (All You Need To Know)

What is the Statute of Limitation on Theft?

Is there a timeline that you should be aware of?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s dig into our statute of limitations law!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

What Is The Statute of Limitations on Theft

The short answer is that it depends on where you are.

In some states, there is no statute of limitations on “felony” charges whereas you have a statute of limitations of two years on “misdemeanor” charges.

In other places like California, you have a three-year statute of limitations on felony charges and one year for a misdemeanor.

What Is Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time the prosecutor has to charge someone for a crime.

Some crimes have no statute of limitations.

This means that the prosecutor can file charges against the defendant at any point in time in the future.

For example, murder does not have any statute of limitations.

A person can be accused of murder years (or decades) after the commission of the offense.

Some other crimes have a statute of limitations.

In other words, after the passing of a certain amount of time, the prosecutor will be legally barred from filing charges.

Every state has adopted its own statute of limitations depending on the crimes.

In some cases, the statute of limitations clock can be tolled (paused).

For example, if a criminal defendant flees or hides (cannot be found), the statute of limitations time will be paused for the fleeing or disappearance duration. 

The tolling law is designed to ensure that criminals do not run away and have their crimes wash away with time.

Felony Theft 

If a theft crime is charged as a felony, it means that the crime is more serious in nature or other aspects warrant the crime to be prosecuted as a felony.

Some examples of theft crimes that may be pursued as felony charges are:

  • Grand theft of a firearm
  • 1st-degree burglary 
  • Robbery 

The statute of limitation for felony charges is generally longer than misdemeanor charges.

For example, in California, robbery has a 3-year statute of limitation whereas petty theft has a 1-year statute of limitation.

Misdemeanor Theft 

Many theft crimes can be classified as misdemeanors.

A misdemeanor is a type of crime that is considered less serious than crimes for theft falling under the category of a felony.

Some misdemeanor theft crimes are:

  • Petty theft
  • Shoplifting 
  • Receiving stolen property 

The statute of limitation of misdemeanor charges are generally shorter than felony charges.

For example, in Iowa, simple misdemeanors have a statute of limitations of 1 year whereas certain felony charges can go up to 10 years.

Wobbler Offense

There are some theft crimes called “wobblers”.

This means that the prosecutor can prosecute them as either a misdemeanor or felony.

The decision about how the crime will be prosecuted will be driven largely by the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history.

If the choice is made for a misdemeanor charge, then the prosecutor will have to respect the statute of limitation for misdemeanor charges.

If the choice is to go for a felony charge, then the statute of limitations that will apply is that of a felony charge.

Theft Statute of Limitation by State

Every state has its own laws setting out the statute of limitations regarding theft and similar crimes.

FindLaw has published the “State Criminal Statutes of Limitations” table where they summarize each state’s criminal statutes.

It’s important to note that you should not blindly rely on the accuracy of such a table.

Laws change and evolve with time so you want to make sure you speak to a qualified criminal attorney to understand the theft statute of limitations.


What is the statute of limitations for theft?

How long do you have to press charges for theft?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Statute of Limitation Theft

  • Statute of limitations on theft will vary by state and according to the nature of the crime
  • Every state has its own laws defining the statute of limitations applicable to theft whether the crime is charged as felony or misdemeanor 
  • Some theft crimes are “wobblers” whereby the prosecutor can pursue them either as misdemeanors or felonies 
  • More serious theft crimes like grand theft will have a longer statute of limitations than less serious theft crimes like petty theft or shoplifting 
Due process
Ex post facto
Federal statute of limitations 
Grand theft 
Gun charges 
Petty theft
Statute of limitations
Criminal attorney
Murder statute of limitation 
Robbery statute of limitations 
Statute of limitations on burglary 
Statute of limitations on embezzlement 
Statute of limitations shoplifting

Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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