Legislative History: Recent Changes to the Criminal Statute of Limitations

The following information summarizes recent changes to the criminal statute of limitations.

1989–Criminal sexual conduct cases involving minors

In 1989, the legislature added a unique feature to the limitations period for child sex abuse to allow prosecution long after the offense occurred if the victim did not report the offense within the usual limitations period. This feature was added out of concern that many child sex abuse victims either repress their memories of the offense, are afraid to talk about it, or do not understand until adulthood that the behavior was unlawful. The legislature provided that, in these cases, the offense could be charged anytime within two years after the offense was reported to law enforcement, but not after the victim reached 25 years of age.26

1991–Criminal sexual conduct case involving minors

The 1991 Legislature extended the limitation period that applies to criminal sexual conduct against a victim under age 18 from two years to three years after the offense was reported to law enforcement authorities and struck language stating that the indictment or complaint could not occur after the victim reached 25 years of age. The legislature also provided a separate seven-year limitations period to criminal sexual conduct offenses against a victim 18 years of age or older.27

1993–Extension of application of tolling provision for when defendant is absent from state

In 1993, the legislature provided that all limitations periods must exclude any time period during which the defendant was not an inhabitant of or usually resident within the state; prior to this change, the tolling provision applied only to offenses subject to the three-year limitations period.28

1994–Diversion program participants

In 1994, the legislature added the tolling provision for the time period during which the offender is involved in a diversion program related to the offense.29

1995–Criminal sexual conduct; tolling of limitations period during DNA analysis

In 1995, the limitation period for criminal sexual conduct offenses was increased from seven to nine years. Also, the legislature added the tolling provision for the time period during which evidence is under DNA analysis.30

2000–Elimination of limitations period for crimes resulting in the death of the victim, kidnapping, and criminal sexual conduct cases where DNA evidence exists. The 2000 Legislature eliminated the statute of limitations for any crime resulting in the death of the victim and for kidnapping. Prior to this change, the only crime that did not have a statute of limitations was murder. The legislature also eliminated the statute of limitations for first- through third- degree criminal sexual conduct offenses if physical evidence is collected and preserved that is capable of being tested for its DNA characteristics. The legislature retained the existing limitations periods for criminal sexual conduct offenses in which such evidence is not collected and preserved.31

2005–Labor trafficking

The 2005 Legislature created the crime of labor trafficking. In doing so, the legislature provided that there was no statute of limitations for labor trafficking if the victim was a minor, and a six-year limitations period applies if the victim was an adult.32

2009–Criminal sexual conduct when victim is a minor; financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. In 2009, the legislature amended an exception to the statute’s general nine- year limitations period for filing a complaint alleging criminal sexual conduct against a minor. The exception had provided that if the victim failed to report the offense within nine years of the commission of the offense, the limitations period would be three years after any source reported the offense. The legislature struck the clause providing that the exception would only apply if the victim failed to report the offense. Accordingly, under the 2009 law, the limitations period is the later of nine years after the commission of the offense or three years after reporting of the offense.33

As part of an omnibus vulnerable adults bill, the legislature added financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult to paragraph (h)—providing a five-year limitations period for certain theft offenses when the amount stolen exceeds $35,000—thereby increasing the limitations period from three to five years for this offense.34


This and any related posts have been adopted from the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department’s Information Brief, Criminal Statutes of Limitations, written by legislative analyst Rebecca Pirius.

This post is part of a series of posts on Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Minnesota.


30 Laws 1995, ch. 226, art. 2, § 35. 31 Laws 2000, ch. 311, art. 4, § 9.

32 Laws 2005, ch. 136, art. 17, § 52.

33 Laws 2009, ch. 59, art. 5, § 20. See State v. Krikorian, WL 68841 (Minn. Ct. App. Jan. 8, 2008). In this case, a victim reported sexual abuse of both himself and his sister. At that time, the language of the statute provided that the “victim” must not have reported the abuse for the exception to be applicable (i.e., allowing a complaint to be filed within three years of the report). Since the victim did report within nine years of the offense, the exception did not apply and the state was barred from prosecuting the offense because it did not file the complaint within nine years of the end of the abuse. Because the sister did not report the abuse herself, the exception applied and the state was allowed to prosecute the case because the complaint was filed within three years of the report.

34 Laws 2009, ch. 119, § 18.