Could a criminal taunt the police till the statute of limitations is over, living abroad, and get away with it?

A offshoot of the thread, Why don’t rich people run to a country with no extradition if they know US authorities are about to arrest them?’ Why don't rich people run to a country with no extradition if they know US authorities are about to arrest them?

If someone committed a crime and was able to make it to a country w/o any extradition arrangements with the US, and w/o any formal diplomatic relations (I’m thinking of Iran in this instance but other countries work too that fit this), and the criminal has dual citizenship in this other nation, could they openly communicate with the police stating their intention when they return to report for questioning, but has put all affairs in the US on hold till they return, but that return date would just happen to be right after the statute of limitations is over. How would this work?

Don’t need answer fast.

From what I understand, the time limit is put on hold if the suspect is out of jurisdiction. So, a criminal commits a crime. Six months later, he goes to Ruritania, which has no extradition treaty. He stays there for ten years. After that time he returns to the US. As far as the Statute of Limitations is concerned, his crime was six months ago.

So, if he spends those ten years sending rude letters to the police, he can be tried, and the letters are evidence.



Other jurisdictions have statute of limitation “recipes” for designated felonies. In such cases, a specific amount of time can be added on to the established limit if the case experiences extenuating circumstances. This includes cases where there is DNA or when the investigator can document that the suspect is out of the jurisdiction for a period of time.

Yes, fleeing from justice to escape prosecution is not a “get out of jail free” card.

IANAL but as I understand it, the statute of limitations only applies as far as starting a prosecution. It doesn’t apply as some game clock to burn out, as if it were the 4th quarter of a football game.

Say the statute of limitations for arson is 20 years. John Doe is guilty of arson in the year 1993 but the police only learn of the crime today, and want to prosecute him now. Too late - the time limit is past. Prosecution cannot be started.

But if the police had been hunting for Doe starting in 1995, and been pursuing him all the way til now, statute of limitations doesn’t apply. Doe can be arrested, charged and convicted even if it’s the year 2022 now.

Interesting, what actually would pause the ‘game clock’?

As I understand, the moment the prosecution/investigation begins, is when the clock stops running and statute of limitations doesn’t apply anymore.

A criminal’s goal, and hope, is for the entire statute of limitations period to expire before any sort of investigation begins or charges are filed - be it 5, 10, or 20 years.

The prosecutor would file charges. This would end the statute of limitations. The suspect would be arrested at the airport if they tried to return to the US.

IAIFAL. (I am infact a lawyer).
The above posters have it right. For limitation there are always 2.5 questions.

  1. When does it start.
  2. When does the clock stop running.

And almost as important, is question 1.5, is there any think for which time is excluded ie the clock stops running temporarily.

So the answer is the specific case facts and how the relate to the law.