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Can Someone File Assault Charges After the Fact in Minneapolis?

There is never a deadline when it comes to reporting an alleged criminal offense to the police. This means that at any point a person could report an alleged assault to law enforcement. There is, however, a deadline on when the police can act on these reports. If the statute of limitations on an assault has expired, the prosecution has no ability to pursue criminal charges. This is true no matter if the alleged assault occurred or not.

For most people, the possibility of an assault charge following an incident could remain for years into the future. These charges could come in the minutes following an incident, or a report could be made months later. In either of these situations, it is vital that you seek out legal counsel to protect your freedom.

An assault conviction could derail your future and even lead to time behind bars. The right assault charges lawyer in Minneapolis could push back against these allegations no matter when they are made. Contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller to get started on building your defense.

When Assault Allegations Are Typically Filed in Minneapolis

Assault charges come in many different forms. The specific nature of each assault charge can play a part in determining how quickly a complaining witness might report it to the police. If you’re wondering can someone file assault charges after the fact, your actually asking what is the statute of limitations on assault. You want to know how long, after the act is allegedly committed, someone has to file assault charges.

Many complaining witnesses report an alleged assault immediately after it occurred. In fact, it is not uncommon for the police to be summoned to the scene of an assault while all of the parties are still present.

Other cases might not be reported right away. Some individuals are in a state of shock after a violent encounter and might not be prepared to speak to the police right away. Others might claim to fear retribution. It is particularly common for allegations of domestic assault to occur well after the assault was alleged to have occurred. If you’re interested if someone can someone file assault charges after the fact, the short answer is yes – they have until the statute of limitations runs out and do not have to immediately report it.

Who has the Right to File Assault Charges?

It is not uncommon for the general public to refer to a person “filing” assault charges against their alleged abuser. In reality, the law does not allow for an individual to file criminal charges on their own. Instead, the term is used informally to describe when an alleged victim reports an act of assault to the police.

Anyone can make a report to the police regarding an alleged assault. While these reports often lead to arrests and criminal charges, that does not occur automatically. Once a reporting witness contacts the police and reports these allegations, the case is out of their hands forever. From this point forward, only a state prosecutor can file criminal charges.

Criminal charges can be filed in different ways. An officer could write the accused a citation ordering them to appear at an arraignment hearing on a set date. They could also make an arrest for an assault charge even if the allegation is old.

Who Can Withdraw Assault Charges?

As is the case with filing criminal charges, only a prosecutor can withdraw or dismiss an assault charge. Even if the reporting witness no longer wants to be involved in the case, they have no authority under the law to drop the charges against you. Once the state has initiated criminal proceedings, the prosecutor is the only party that can withdraw them.

That does not mean an alleged victim’s refusal to participate in a criminal case is not important. Should they refuse to participate or even request that charges against you are dropped, it could result in a dismissal. The prosecution is often wary of moving forward with a criminal case where the alleged victim no longer stands by their accusations.

Even if this does not lead to the dismissal of your charges, it could otherwise impact your defense strategy. By weakening the state’s case, the refusal to participate could result in a more favorable plea bargain from the prosecutor.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller have handled countless cases where the reporting witness recants their statement or otherwise refuses to testify. We are prepared to use that experience to help you secure a favorable outcome in your case.

How Late Charges Could Impact Your Case

If there was a significant delay between an alleged act of assault and your arrest for the offense, it could be a factor in your defense strategy. Most of the time, people report alleged assaults to the police as soon as they occur. The longer a person waits, the more difficult it could be to establish that an assault occurred. This could impact your defense strategy by casting doubt than an assault took place at all.

Waiting for weeks or months to report an assault makes it impossible for the police to thoroughly investigate. Any injuries that might have resulted are unlikely to still be present. Tracking down witnesses could also be much more difficult. In some cases, delayed charges could work in your favor by leaving the police without enough evidence to secure a conviction.

Of course, it could work against you if the police do not file charges against you for months or even years after an alleged assault takes place. This kind of delay could make it difficult for you to build a defense. For that reason, there is a finite time limit the state has to bring charges against you. This limit is known as the statute of limitations.

Statute of Limitations on Minnesota Assault Charges

While the police will make a report of an assault allegation at any point, the law cuts off the prosecution’s ability to act on that report following a set period of time. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. The prosecutor must pursue an assault case before the statute of limitations expires or forever lose the opportunity to bring those charges against the accused.

If you’re asking can someone file assault charges after the fact, the statute of limitations varies from one criminal act to another. Certain serious offenses—including murder and kidnapping—do not have a statute of limitations. In other words, the prosecution does not face a deadline to pursue these charges. For the vast majority of criminal acts under Minnesota law, there is some type of statute of limitations. The time limit available varies from as short as three years to as long as 9 years for certain sex trafficking crimes.

While there are different types of assault charges under state law, they each face the same statutory period. Whether you are charged with felony or misdemeanor assault, the state only has three years to pursue those charges against.

The statute of limitations on an assault charge begins to expire the day the assault allegedly occurred. In most cases, once this time limit begins to expire it will not stop until the end of the three-year window. However, there are some factors that will toll—or pause—the statute of limitations in an assault case. Specifically, the state can request the statute of limitations to be paused if they can show a person left the boundaries of the state in an effort to avoid prosecution. It is rare that the state will attempt to toll the statute of limitations, and your attorney could fight back against this effort if it is in bad faith.

Discuss Your Case With an Assault Charges Lawyer of Gerald Miller, P.A.

There is no time limit on when a person can report an alleged act of assault to the police. However, it is important to remember that the complaining witness does not have the power to “file” assault charges. That power rests with the state. If enough time passes following the alleged assault, the state could be barred from pursuing criminal charges.

Ultimately, allegations of assault should be taken seriously no matter when they are made against you. The consequences of an assault conviction are serious and could impact you for the rest of your life. Finding legal counsel that will aggressively pursue a fair outcome in your case is critical.

You have the right to a strong defense no matter when the allegations of assault were made against you. The attorneys of Gerald Miller will carefully review your case for potential defenses, including the possibility that the statute of limitations has expired. If the state fails to bring charges against you in a timely manner, our attorneys will work tirelessly to have the case dismissed. To get started, call today to schedule your free consultation.

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About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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