Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Delaware: An Overview

Criminal statutes of limitations are time restrictions set by state laws that affect how long prosecutors have to press charges, as provided by Delaware Code title 11, section 205. These restrictions protect evidence like fingerprints and eyewitness testimony and expedite criminal proceedings. Class A misdemeanor charges in Delaware, for example, have a three-year time limit, whereas all other misdemeanor charges have a two-year time limit. The five-year maximum sentence for most felonies increases to ten years when DNA evidence is present.


  • There is no time restriction on the penalties for murder, attempted murder, Class A felonies, and attempted Class A felonies.
  • The majority of sexual offenses, as well as sexual assault attempts, are subject to trial at any time.
  • Cases of attempted or actual trafficking involving minor victims may be tried at any time.
  • Any other felonies must be prosecuted within five years.


  • Class A misdemeanor proceedings must be initiated within three years; other misdemeanor cases must be initiated within two years.

Crimes in Which a Child is a Victim

  • Cases of attempted or actual trafficking involving minor victims may be tried at any time.

Acts During Which Statutes Of Limitations Do Not Run

The statute of limitations is suspended if you are:
  • evading capture or hiding from law enforcement;
  • you are considered a “fugitive from justice” because you skipped a scheduled court appearance;
  • or action has been brought against you for the identical offense in Delaware.


  • The prosecution may file a case within 10 years of the finding of DNA evidence in cases where the statute of limitations has passed, and the evidence is linked to a crime.
  • A case can be filed within two years of the time the crime was found if the statute of limitations has already run out for crimes including forgery, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, theft or improper use of property, or misconduct in public office. The time frame cannot go beyond three years from the crime’s date.
Finally, note that state laws may be altered at any time by passing new legislation, decisions by higher courts (including decisions made at the federal level), ballot initiatives, and other methods.
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