Expungement and the Statute of Limitations

What is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is a set of laws which restricts the timeframe in which criminal charges can be brought against a defendant. Depending on the alleged crime, the prosecution has a specific window of time in which to act. Once that time limit expires, the prosecution is barred from initiating any criminal proceedings against the defendant in the future.

For example, if a person is accused of committing theft, the prosecutor has five years in which to take some kind of legal action against the defendant. If the prosecutor fails to act within those five years, the case is closed forever.

What does this mean for your expungement?

Basically, before you can have your record expunged, you must wait until the statute of limitations expires. Even if other legal factors prevent the prosecution from charging you, the law does not allow expungements until the possibility of criminal proceedings is ruled out by the statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations’ time limit varies depending on the crime of which you are accused.


  • Certain felony crimes have no time limit at all, including:
    • Murder and manslaughter
    • Certain types of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault; or sexual assault cases involving DNA evidence from an unknown person
    • Continuous sexual abuse of a child or children
    • Indecency with a child
    • Leaving the scene of a fatal accident
  • Crimes which have a 10-year limit include:
    • Theft from an estate by an executor, administrator, guardian, or trustee with intent to defraud
    • Theft by a public official from property he controls in his official capacity
    • Forgery
    • Injury to a child, senior citizen, or disabled person as a first-degree felony
    • Certain types of sexual assault
    • Arson
  • Crimes which have a 7-year limit include:
    • Misapplication of fiduciary property
    • Fraudulently securing the execution of a document
    • Certain tax violations
  • Crimes which have a 5-year limit include:
    • Theft or robbery
    • Kidnapping or burglary
    • Injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled person not as a first-degree felony
    • Child abandonment or endangerment
    • Insurance fraud
  • If the victim of a crime is under 17 years old at the time of the crime, the statute of limitations is 20 years from the victim’s 18th birthday for:
    • Sexual performance by a child
    • Aggravated kidnapping with intent of sexual abuse
    • Certain burglaries

For most other felony crimes, the statute of limitations is set at three years from the date of commission.

The statute of limitations for misdemeanor crimes is set at two years from the date of commission.

Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about the statute of limitations and how it applies to your case, or if you need your criminal record expunged, contact Dallas expungement attorney Mark Lassiter at 214-651-1121.

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