How Long Does a Prosecutor Have to File Charges in NJ?

States’ statutes of limitations govern time windows for filing specific types of cases. If a lawsuit is not filed in accordance with the relevant statute of limitations, then it may be dismissed. In New Jersey, there are different statutes of limitations that may apply to various criminal charges.

Accordingly, the deadline for prosecutors to file charges can vary based on the type of crime at issue. For instance, there is five-year deadline for filing charges for indictable crimes, while charges for disorderly persons offenses must be brought to court within one year. Meanwhile, there is no deadline to file charges for crimes such as sexual assault, child abuse, or murder.

Seek support and guidance from our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by calling (609) 616-4956.

Statutes of Limitations for Criminal Charges in New Jersey

The timeframe within which a prosecutor can file charges against an individual is known as the statute of limitations. This legal limitation sets a deadline for initiating criminal proceedings against a defendant. In New Jersey, the specific length of the statute of limitations varies depending on the type of crime at issue.

Indictable Crimes

Indictable crimes are serious criminal offenses in New Jersey, encompassing crimes such as robbery, burglary, and certain drug-related offenses. In other states, these types of offenses may be referred to as “felonies.”

For these types of crimes, prosecutors have a more extended timeframe to file charges, typically up to five years. This means that if you are suspected of committing an indictable crime, then the prosecution has up to five years from the date of the alleged offense to initiate legal proceedings against you.

It’s important to note that the statute of limitations can be affected by specific circumstances. Accordingly, guidance from our criminal defense attorneys can be crucial to understanding how it applies to your case.

Disorderly Persons Offenses

Disorderly persons offenses, also known as “misdemeanors” in other states, include offenses like simple assault, petty theft, and certain minor drug offenses. The statute of limitations for these less severe offenses is shorter compared to indictable crimes. The time window to initiate proceedings for disorderly persons offenses typically lasts for one year.

This means that if you are suspected of committing a disorderly persons offense, prosecutors have up to one year from the date of the alleged offense to bring charges against you. However, exceptions and nuances may apply to certain cases.

Sexual Assault and Child Abuse

Some crimes, such as sexual assault and child abuse, are considered particularly heinous, and New Jersey law does not impose a statute of limitations for these offenses. This means that prosecutors can file charges at any time, regardless of how much time has passed since the alleged incident. This underscores the seriousness of these crimes and the commitment of the legal system to ensure that individuals accused of such offenses can be brought to justice, no matter when the alleged act occurred.


Homicide, the most severe criminal offense involving the unlawful taking of another person’s life, also has no statute of limitations in New Jersey. This means that there is no time limit for prosecutors to file charges against an individual suspected of homicide, regardless of how much time has passed since the alleged crime. The absence of a statute of limitations underscores the gravity of this offense and the unwavering commitment of the legal system to seek justice for victims and their families, regardless of when the crime occurred. If you are facing allegations of homicide, it is critical to seek immediate legal representation to protect your rights and build a strong defense.

When Should You Hire Legal Representation After Facing Charges in NJ?

If you are facing a criminal offense in New Jersey, then you should seek legal representation as quickly as possible. Delaying work on your case can be harmful to your defense. Fortunately, our legal team is prepared to assist in all of the following ways:

Preservation of Evidence

One crucial reason for you to contact our law firm immediately after being accused of a crime is the preservation of evidence. Evidence can degrade or be lost over time, making it more challenging to build a strong defense. By quickly reaching out to our team, you may increase the likelihood of preserving critical evidence that may be vital in your case.

Protection of Rights

Another significant advantage of hiring our legal professionals quickly is the protection of your rights. We can ensure that law enforcement and prosecutors adhere to proper procedures during the investigation and any subsequent legal proceedings. This includes safeguarding your rights against self-incrimination, protecting you from illegal searches and seizures, and ensuring that you are treated fairly throughout the legal process.

Building a Strong Defense

Building a strong defense requires time and careful preparation. Our skilled legal team can analyze the evidence against you, interview witnesses, and explore legal strategies to protect your interests. The sooner you reach out, the more time our attorneys have to investigate the case thoroughly, identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments.

Navigating Legal Procedures

Navigating the complex legal procedures involved in criminal cases can be challenging for individuals without legal expertise. Our lawyers have a deep understanding of the legal system and can guide you through every step of the process. This includes filing necessary documents, meeting court deadlines, and representing clients in negotiations and court appearances. Delaying the hiring of an attorney can lead to confusion and missteps in legal proceedings, potentially resulting in unfavorable outcomes.

Mitigating Potential Consequences

Lastly, hiring our team early in the process allows for the exploration of potential alternatives to incarceration or reduced charges. Our attorneys can negotiate with prosecutors to seek plea bargains or diversion programs that may lead to reduced penalties or the avoidance of a criminal record. The longer you wait to seek legal counsel, the fewer opportunities you may have to explore your options.

Contact Our Law Firm Today for Help Defending Against Criminal Charges in New Jersey

Get assistance from our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by dialing (609) 616-4956.

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