Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Stale Charges

Your client plans to travel to another state where there is an outstanding warrant for failure to appear on a traffic charge issued ten years ago.  Is prosecution barred by a statute of limitations?  First, a statute of limitations is a bar to filing a stale charge.  The filing of a criminal charge and arrest warrant are probably sufficient to toll the statute, although the statute could be a bar to refiling the charge if it were dismissed on other grounds. Second, statutes of limitations generally exclude periods when the defendant was not in the state. For example, Minn. Stat., §628.26 (l) excludes “any period of time during which the defendant was not an inhabitant of or usually resident within this state.” What evidence currently exists to prove the criminal charge?  Is the warrant is still active?  If the warrant is still active and client feels compelled to resolve the matter, the client should clear the warrant either by posting an appearance bond or by turning himself in on the warrant for release with a court date.  Then he can defend the old charge and the stale evidence.  Often, the prosecutor or court will dismiss the claims before trial, due to stale evidence.

Thomas C. Gallagher

Gallagher Criminal Defense Services


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