Asked in Criminal Law for New Jersey

Q: Does the NJ statute of limitations clock start the day the crime was committed? What if it's not discovered by police?

I'm working on a research essay and I need some clarification around statute of limitations in NJ for criminal codes.

I see it clearly listed in my textbook and online that indictable crimes (felonies in NJ) typically have a 5 year statute and disorderly persons (misdemeanors in NJ) typically have a 1 year statute. I also see that the statute clock starts ticking when the crime was committed.

Maybe I'm complicating things here. But my questions is- what if the crime wasn't discovered until well after the day it was committed?

Let's use a petty theft as an example. Or any other disorderly persons offense. Hypothetically- If the crime occurred on 1/1/21, would the statue of limitations expire on 1/1/22? What if it wasn't discovered by police (if at all) until a few months after it was committed?

I see CA has some type of discovery rule but see nothing on NJ.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Amber Forrester
Amber Forrester
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Trenton, NJ
  • Licensed in New Jersey

A: While you’re correct about the general 5 year and 1 year SOL for crimes and disorderly persons offenses, there are a number of exceptions, including for crimes with no time limit, cases involving sexual assault where the crime may not be discovered until a later date and crimes involving certain types of forensic evidence that may not be immediately available. NJSA 2C:1-6 is the statute on point.

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