In Rhode Island, if a charge is not brought against a person within a specific period of time, the right to prosecute that case is lost forever. However, there are certain exceptions, as some charges have no limit on the time that they may be brought against a person. Rhode Island General Laws 12-12-17 provides in pertinent part that:
“There shall be no statute of limitations for the following offenses: treason against the state, any homicide, arson, first-degree arson, second-degree arson, third-degree arson, burglary, counterfeiting, forgery, robbery, rape, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree child molestation sexual assault, second-degree child molestation sexual assault, bigamy, manufacturing, selling, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance under the Uniform Controlled Substance Act, chapter 28 of title 21, or any other offense for which the maximum penalty provided is life imprisonment.“
While the above offenses have no limitation on the time that a charge can be brought, the following offenses must be brought against a person within ten (10) years or be barred forever:
“[L]arceny under § 11-41-2 (receiving stolen goods), § 11-41-3 (embezzlement and fraudulent conversion), § 11-41-4 (obtaining property by false pretenses or personation), § 11-41-11 (embezzlement by bank officer or employee), § 11-41-12 (fraudulent conversion by agent or factor), and § 11-41-13 (obtaining signature by false pretenses), or any larceny that is punishable as a felony; any violation of chapter 7 of title 11 (bribery); any violation of § 11-18-1 (giving false document to agent, employee, or public official); perjury; any violation of chapter 42 of title 11 (threats and extortion); any violation of chapter 15 of title 7 (racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations); any violation of chapter 57 of title 11 (racketeer violence); any violation of chapter 36 of title 6 (antitrust law); or any violation of § 11-68-2 (exploitation of an elder).”
If an offense does not fall into the previous two categories, then charges must generally be brought within three (3) years.
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