Washington State law sets time limits for the filing of criminal charges. Such time limits are called Statute of Limitations. No criminal charge can be filed after the statute of limitations has expired for that particular crime.
For gross misdemeanor crimes, like DUI, Reckless Driving, Assault 4°, Theft 3°, Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) 2°, the statute of limitations is two (2) years. For misdemeanor crimes, like Negligent Driving 1°, Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) 3°, Hit & Run (property damage only), the statute of limitations is only one (1) year.
During the COVID pandemic, some county prosecuting attorney offices are failing to file criminal charges within the one or two year statute of limitations. Consequently, no lawful criminal prosecution can occur. Any criminal charge filed after the one (1) or two (2) year statute of limitations deadline is automatically dismissed by the trial court.
However, sometimes criminal charges are filed only a few weeks or days before the statute of limitations deadline. Especially on more serious crimes like DUIs.
So a person should always hire a criminal defense lawyer right after their arrest and prepare their case defense as soon as possible. And not just hope that the criminal charges won’t be filed in time.
Waiting to see if charges are filed in time is never a good defense strategy. It is very difficult for a defense lawyer prepare a good case defense many months after the crime occurred. Clients and witnesses forget very important details. Witnesses move away. Favorable defense evidence is lost.
Call Lynnwood DUI / criminal defense lawyer Paul Hanson for more information. Call 425-778-7339.