It depends on the crime and the time period that has passed. For many accused individuals, allegations of criminal wrongdoing can be shocking, particularly if the alleged offense occurred long ago. However, if you are accused of an old crime, you should not let your fear and surprise paralyze you into inaction, as the law sometimes offers protection from stale allegations. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the law and consider speaking with a legal professional.
Michiganders like you are protected from old accusations by what is known at the statute of limitations. These laws prevent a prosecutor from bringing criminal charges against an individual if a certain period of time has passed. The reason for these laws is to forbid individuals from being prosecuted based on deteriorated evidence and witness accounts.
There are a few important things to note, however. First, some crimes, like murder, have no statute of limitations, meaning criminal charges can be brought at any time. Second, in order for the statute of limitations to apply, the defendant typically must have been “catchable,” meaning that he or she lived out in the open and not in hiding. Therefore, if you are wanted for a crime, you cannot run away from the accusations and then, if not caught for a certain period of time, invoke the statute of limitations.
A criminal charge can threaten you with severe penalties and the possibility of long-term consequences. If you want to protect yourself as fully as possible, it might be prudent to speak with a criminal defense team. A strong defense may be able to assess your case, determine if the statute of limitations applies, and move forward from there with your best interest in mind.
Source: FindLaw, “Time Limits for Charges: State Criminal Statutes of Limitations,” accessed on Jan. 31, 2015