Code of the District of Columbia

§ 23–113. Limitations on actions for criminal violations.

(a) Time limitations. —

(1) A prosecution for the following crimes may be commenced at any time:

(A) murder in the first or second degree (D.C. Official Code §§ 22-2101 and 2102 [22-2102]);

(B) murder in the second degree (D.C. Official Code § 22-2103);

(C) murder of a law enforcement officer or public safety employee (D.C. Official Code § 22-2106);

(D) first degree murder that constitutes an act of terrorism (D.C. Official Code § 22-3153(a));

(E) second degree murder that constitutes an act of terrorism (D.C. Official Code § 22-3153(c)); and

(F) murder of a law enforcement officer or public safety employee that constitutes an act of terrorism (D.C. Official Code §§ 22-3153(b)).

(2) A prosecution for the following crimes and any offense that is properly joinable with any of the following crimes is barred if not commenced within fifteen (15) years after it is committed:

(A) first degree sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3002);

(B) second degree sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3003);

(C) first degree child sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3008); and

(D) second degree child sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3009).

(3) A prosecution for the following crimes and any offense that is properly joinable with any of the following crimes is barred if not commenced within ten (10) years after it is committed:

(A) third degree sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3004);

(B) fourth degree sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3005);

(C) enticing a child for the purpose of committing felony sexual abuse (D.C Official Code § 22-3010);

(D) first degree sexual abuse of a ward (D.C. Official Code § 22-3013);

(E) second degree sexual abuse of a ward (D.C. Official Code § 22-3014);

(F) first degree sexual abuse of a patient or client (D.C. Official Code § 22-3015);

(G) second degree sexual abuse of a patient or client (D.C. Official Code § 22-3016);

(H) using a minor in a sexual performance or promoting a sexual performance by a minor (D.C. Official Code § 22-3102);

(I) incest (D.C. Official Code § 22-1901); and

(J) Trafficking in labor or commercial sex and sex trafficking of children as prohibited by [D.C. Official Code §§ 22-1833 and 22-1834], respectively;

(K) Section [D.C. Official Code § 22-2704];

(L) Section [D.C. Official  22-2705]; and

(M) Sections [D.C. Official Code §§ 22-2706 and 22-2708].

(4) Except as provided in paragraph (6), a prosecution for a felony other than those crimes enumerated in paragraphs (1) through (3) is barred if not commenced within six (6) years after it is committed.

(5) Except as provided in paragraph (6), a prosecution for any other criminal offense is barred if not commenced within three (3) years after it is committed.

(6) A prosecution for a felony or a misdemeanor may be brought within three (3) years:

(A) after a public officer or employee has left office, for any completed offense based on official conduct; or

(B) after a fraud or breach of fiduciary trust has been, or reasonably should have been, discovered for any completed offense based on that fraud or breach of fiduciary trust; even if barred by the provisions of paragraphs (4) and (5):

Provided, that, in no case shall this provision extend the period of limitations to more than nine (9) years in the case of a felony nor more than six (6) years in the case of a misdemeanor.

(b) Time when offense committed. — An offense is committed either when every element occurs, or, if a legislative purpose to prohibit a continuing course of conduct plainly appears, at the time when the course of conduct, or the defendant’s complicity therein, is terminated. Time starts to run on the day after the offense is committed or completed.

(c) Commencement of prosecution. — A prosecution is commenced when:

(1) an indictment is entered;

(2) an information is filed; or

(3) a complaint is filed before a judicial officer empowered to issue an arrest warrant; provided, that such warrant is issued without unreasonable delay. A prosecution for an offense necessarily included in the offense charged shall be considered to have been timely commenced, even though the period of limitation for such included offense has expired, if the period of limitation has not expired for the offense charged and if there was, after the close of the evidence at trial, sufficient evidence as a matter of law to sustain a conviction for the offense charged.

(d) Suspension of period of limitation. —

(1) The period of limitation for an offense, and any necessarily included offense, does not run during any time when a prosecution against the defendant for that offense is pending in the courts of the District of Columbia.

(2) The period of limitation shall not begin to run until the victim reaches 21 years of age for the following offenses:

(A) first degree child sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3008);

(B) second degree child sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3009);

(C) enticing a child for the purpose of committing felony sexual abuse (D.C. Official Code § 22-3010);

(D) using a minor in a sexual performance or promoting a sexual performance by a minor (D.C. Official Code § 22-3102);

(E) incest (D.C. Official Code § 22-1901); and

(F) Sections [D.C. Official Code 22-3009.01 and 22-3009.02];

(G) Section [D.C. Official Code § 22-2704];

(H) Section [D.C. Official Code § 22-2705];

(I) Section [D.C. Official Code § 22-2706], where the victim is a minor; and

(J) Forced labor, trafficking in labor or commercial sex, sex trafficking of children, and benefitting financially from human trafficking as prohibited by the Human Trafficking Act [D.C. Law 18-239], where the victim is a minor.

(3) The period of limitation shall not begin to run for first degree sexual abuse of a ward (D.C. Official Code § 22-3013) or second degree sexual abuse of a ward (D.C. Official Code § 22-3014) until the victim is no longer a ward.

(4) The period of limitation shall not begin to run for first degree sexual abuse of a patient or client (D.C. Official Code § 22-3015) or second degree sexual abuse of a patient or client (D.C. Official Code § 22-3016) until the victim is no longer a patient or client of the actor.

(5) The period of limitation shall not begin to run for forced labor, trafficking in labor or commercial sex, sex trafficking of children, and benefitting financially from human trafficking until the victim is no longer subject to the means used to obtain or maintain his or her labor or services or commercial sex acts.

(e) Extended period for commencement of new prosecution. — If a timely complaint, indictment, or information is dismissed for any error, defect, insufficiency, or irregularity, a new prosecution may be commenced within three (3) months after the dismissal becomes final even though the period of limitation has expired at the time of the dismissal or will expire within three (3) months thereafter.

(f) Fugitives from justice. — No statute of limitations shall extend to any person fleeing from justice.


(Apr. 30, 1982, D.C. Law 4-104, §§ 2, 3, 29 DCR 1401; Oct. 17, 2002, D.C. Law 14-194, § 156(a), 49 DCR 5306; May 10, 2005, D.C. Law 15-356, § 2, 52 DCR 1176; Apr. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 16-306, § 224(b), 53 DCR 8610; Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 206(a), 57.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 23-113.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 5-113.31 and § 22-3227.07.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-194 rewrote subsec. (a)(1) which had read as follows: “(1) A prosecution for murder in the first or second degree may be commenced at any time.”

D.C. Law 15-356 rewrote subsecs. (a) and (d).

D.C. Law 16-306, in subsecs. (a)(2) and (3), inserted “and any offense that is properly joinable with any of the following crimes” following “A prosecution for the following crimes”.

D.C. Law 18-239, in subsec. (a)(3), deleted “and” from the end of subpar. (H), substituted “; and” for a period the end of subpar. (I), and added subpars. (J) to (M); and, in subsec. (d)(2), deleted “and” from the end of subpar. (D), substituted “; and” for a period the end of subpar. (E), and added subpars. (F) to (J) and par. (d)(5).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 224(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-445, July 19, 2006, 53 DCR 6443).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 224(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-490, October 18, 2006, 53 DCR 8686).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 224(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-10, January 16, 2007, 54 DCR 1479).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 224(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-25, April 19, 2007, 54 DCR 4036).

Editor's Notes

Section 4 of D.C. Law 15-356 provided as follows: “Sec. 4. Applicability. This act shall apply to an offense committed before its effective date only if the statute of limitations for the offense has not expired prior to the effective date.”