Criminal Statute of Limitations
Utah Code 76-1-304 sets forth how the statute of limitations is tolled if the a criminal defendant is out of state during the limitations period: “[T]he period of limitation does not run against any defendant during any period of time in which the defendant is out of the state following the commission of an offense.”
State v. Canton
The Utah Supreme Court, in State v. Canton, recently addressed this tolling statute in relation to a defendant who was charged in federal court in Utah and subsequently charged in state court. Canton was a New Mexico resident who was charged in Utah for federal crimes. He was released by the federal magistrate to return to New Mexico but had to report in his federal case. Those responsible for monitoring him in New Mexico would report back to the federal court in Utah. More than two years passed during this time and he was eventually charged with Utah state crimes in Utah state court. He moved to dismiss the case on grounds that the statute of limitations passed. The state argued that it was tolled because he was out of state in New Mexico. Canton responded that the tolling statute applied because he had a legal presence in Utah.
After a very lengthy analysis on the legal and dictionary meaning of “out-of-state” the court rejected Canton’s argument that he had “legal presence” in Utah and found that his being physically present in New Mexico was determinative and therefore the limitations was tolled.
Additionally, the court analyzed the constitutionality of the tolling statute and found that it is constitutional so Canton was out of luck.
The statute of limitations for a criminal charge can get rid of charges completely so it is important that your legal counsel does the appropriate research to determine if your charges are time-barred. Contact us a Criminal Defense at our firm we can probably tell you right over the phone.