A statute of limitations is the maximum time after a crime is committed within which legal action can be brought against the defendant. The statute for fraud cases depends on the jurisdiction and the offense.
For most federal crimes, prosecution must begin within five years after the offense. Capital offenses do not have statutes of limitation.
Federal fraud cases involving banks and financial institutions, passports or citizenship generally carry 10-year statutes of limitation, according to Congressional Research Service. Major fraud against the U.S. is subject to a seven-year limit. Tax crimes must be prosecuted within six years.
In most cases, the specified length of time begins after the offense was committed. In some situations, the time limit refers to when the offense was discovered. Statutes of limitation for non-federal cases of fraud will vary by state.
The statutes of limitation for fraud expire ten years after the offense in Alaska, Kentucky and Missouri. According to "Statute of Limitations," Alabama law stipulates that the limit is two years, starting either when the offense was committed or when it "reasonably should have been discovered." In Louisiana, the limit is only one year after the offense.
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