‘Continuing Crimes’ and Statutes of Limitations

December 01, 2010

A basic tenet of statutes of limitations is that the limitations period begins to run for a crime “when the crime is complete.” Crimes are creatures of statute; therefore they are “complete” when a person has committed each of the elements of the crime. The rule is simple and eminently sensible. The statute of limitations measures the period during which the government must bring charges against a defendant. It is almost inevitable that the period should be measured from the completion of the crime, which is the first moment when the government could charge the defendant.

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