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Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 3 - Illinois Statute of Limitations Laws

Sections 3-5 and 3-6 of the Illinois Criminal Code discuss the statute of limitations, a law that prevents the State from prosecuting an individual if a certain amount of time has elapsed since the time of the offense.

Some crimes, as listed in Section 3-5(a), can be prosecuted at any time; these offenses include murder, manslaughter, and other violent crimes. However, any charge not listed in Section (a) cannot be prosecuted after 3 years have passed since the commission of the offense if it is a felony. For misdemeanors, the State cannot prosecute if one year and 6 months has passed. Some exceptions and modifications to this rule do exist and are listed in Section 3-6, 3-7, and 3-8.

Need help with an Illinois criminal case? For issues pertaining to Illinois statute of limitation laws and other legal defense strategies, call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

The text below comes from Article 3 of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. This law may have changed -- please read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - Article 3 - Rights of Defendant

Sec. 3-5. General Limitations.
    (720 ILCS 5/3-5)

(a) A prosecution for: (1) first degree murder, attempt to commit first degree murder, second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving death or personal injuries under Section 11-401 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, failing to give information and render aid under Section 11-403 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, concealment of homicidal death, treason, arson, aggravated arson, forgery, child pornography under paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of Section 11-20.1, aggravated child pornography under paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of Section 11-20.3, or (2) any offense involving sexual conduct or sexual penetration, as defined by Section 12-12 of this Code in which the DNA profile of the offender is obtained and entered into a DNA database within 10 years after the commission of the offense, may be commenced at any time. Clause (2) of this subsection (a) applies if either: (i) the victim reported the offense to law enforcement authorities within 3 years after the commission of the offense unless a longer period for reporting the offense to law enforcement authorities is provided in Section 3-6 or (ii) the victim is murdered during the course of the offense or within 2 years after the commission of the offense.

(b) Unless the statute describing the offense provides otherwise, or the period of limitation is extended by Section 3-6, a prosecution for any offense not designated in Subsection (a) must be commenced within 3 years after the commission of the offense if it is a felony, or within one year and 6 months after its commission if it is a misdemeanor. (Source: P.A. 95-899, eff. 1-1-09; 96-292, eff. 1-1-10.)

Sec. 3-6. Extended limitations.
    (720 ILCS 5/3-6)

The period within which a prosecution must be commenced under the provisions of Section 3-5 or other applicable statute is extended under the following conditions:

(a) A prosecution for theft involving a breach of a fiduciary obligation to the aggrieved person may be commenced as follows:

(1) If the aggrieved person is a minor or a person under legal disability, then during the minority or legal disability or within one year after the termination thereof.

(2) In any other instance, within one year after the discovery of the offense by an aggrieved person, or by a person who has legal capacity to represent an aggrieved person or has a legal duty to report the offense, and is not himself or herself a party to the offense; or in the absence of such discovery, within one year after the proper prosecuting officer becomes aware of the offense. However, in no such case is the period of limitation so extended more than 3 years beyond the expiration of the period otherwise applicable.

(b) A prosecution for any offense based upon misconduct in office by a public officer or employee may be commenced within one year after discovery of the offense by a person having a legal duty to report such offense, or in the absence of such discovery, within one year after the proper prosecuting officer becomes aware of the offense. However, in no such case is the period of limitation so extended more than 3 years beyond the expiration of the period otherwise applicable.

(c) (Blank).

(d) A prosecution for child pornography, indecent solicitation of a child, soliciting for a juvenile prostitute, juvenile pimping or exploitation of a child may be commenced within one year of the victim attaining the age of 18 years. However, in no such case shall the time period for prosecution expire sooner than 3 years after the commission of the offense. When the victim is under 18 years of age, a prosecution for criminal sexual abuse may be commenced within one year of the victim attaining the age of 18 years. However, in no such case shall the time period for prosecution expire sooner than 3 years after the commission of the offense.

(e) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (j), a prosecution for any offense involving sexual conduct or sexual penetration, as defined in Section 12-12 of this Code, where the defendant was within a professional or fiduciary relationship or a purported professional or fiduciary relationship with the victim at the time of the commission of the offense may be commenced within one year after the discovery of the offense by the victim.

(f) A prosecution for any offense set forth in Section 44 of the "Environmental Protection Act", approved June 29, 1970, as amended, may be commenced within 5 years after the discovery of such an offense by a person or agency having the legal duty to report the offense or in the absence of such discovery, within 5 years after the proper prosecuting officer becomes aware of the offense.

(f-5) A prosecution for any offense set forth in Section 16G-15 or 16G-20 of this Code may be commenced within 5 years after the discovery of the offense by the victim of that offense.

(g) (Blank).

(h) (Blank).

(i) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (j), a prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated criminal sexual abuse may be commenced within 10 years of the commission of the offense if the victim reported the offense to law enforcement authorities within 3 years after the commission of the offense.

Nothing in this subdivision (i) shall be construed to shorten a period within which a prosecution must be commenced under any other provision of this Section.

(j) When the victim is under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, a prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or felony criminal sexual abuse, or a prosecution for failure of a person who is required to report an alleged or suspected commission of any of these offenses under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act may be commenced within 20 years after the child victim attains 18 years of age. When the victim is under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, a prosecution for misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse may be commenced within 10 years after the child victim attains 18 years of age.

Nothing in this subdivision (j) shall be construed to shorten a period within which a prosecution must be commenced under any other provision of this Section.

(k) A prosecution for theft involving real property exceeding $100,000 in value under Section 16-1, identity theft under Section 16G-15, aggravated identity theft under Section 16G-20, or any offense set forth in Article 16H may be commenced within 7 years of the last act committed in furtherance of the crime. (Source: P.A. 95-548, eff. 8-30-07; 96-233, eff. 1-1-10.)

Sec. 3-7. Periods excluded from limitation.
    (720 ILCS 5/3-7)

The period within which a prosecution must be commenced does not include any period in which:

(a) The defendant is not usually and publicly resident within this State; or

(b) The defendant is a public officer and the offense charged is theft of public funds while in public office; or

(c) A prosecution is pending against the defendant for the same conduct, even if the indictment or information which commences the prosecution is quashed or the proceedings thereon are set aside, or are reversed on appeal; or

(d) A proceeding or an appeal from a proceeding relating to the quashing or enforcement of a Grand Jury subpoena issued in connection with an investigation of a violation of a criminal law of this State is pending. However, the period within which a prosecution must be commenced includes any period in which the State brings a proceeding or an appeal from a proceeding specified in this subsection (d); or

(e) A material witness is placed on active military duty or leave. In this subsection (e), "material witness" includes, but is not limited to, the arresting officer, occurrence witness, or the alleged victim of the offense; or

(f) The victim of unlawful force or threat of imminent bodily harm to obtain information or a confession is incarcerated, and the victim's incarceration, in whole or in part, is a consequence of the unlawful force or threats. (Source: P.A. 93-417, eff. 8-5-03; 94-1113, eff. 1-1-08.)

Sec. 3-8. Limitation on offense based on series of acts.
    (720 ILCS 5/3-8)

When an offense is based on a series of acts performed at different times, the period of limitation prescribed by this Article starts at the time when the last such act is committed. (Source: Laws 1961, p. 1983.)

   Return to Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 Table of Contents

DISCLAIMER: These excerpts from the law are provided for reference purposes only. Visitors to our Chicago criminal defense lawyer website should be aware that Illinois criminal laws have been amended many times and that Illinois crime laws posted on this site may not be current. In addition, Illinois criminal case law defines precedents for legal determinations that are not defined in the original laws.

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