Statutes of limitations establish how long after an offense is committed it is possible for officials to prosecute it or, in civil case, how long an injured party has to file suit. In Canada, as with other national contexts, statutes of limitation apply to both criminal and legal proceedings.
In Canada, a statute of limitations only exists for lesser (summary) crimes and misdemeanors. This extends for a six-month period after the criminal act was committed. After this period has expired, a defendant can no longer be involuntarily prosecuted by the Canadian government for the offense.
More Serious Offenses
For anything other than a summary or misdemeanor offense, there is no statute of limitations in Canada. Therefore, for crimes such as major theft, murder, rape or the like, you can be charged at any point in the future. Warrants have been known to exist for more than 20 years in some cases.
Canada provides a statute of limitations for uncollected debt as well. In 2003, the Canadian Supreme Court decided that future debt could not legally extend beyond six years. Parliament subsequently changed this provision and increased it to a 10-year period.