Penal Code section 801.5 provides that prosecution of certain offenses, including grand theft, fraud and perjury, “shall be commenced within four years after discovery of the commission of the offenses . . . .” (emphasis added). Section 803, subdivision (c), provides that the four-year statute of limitations “does not commence to run until the discovery of [the] offense . . . .” (emphasis added).
The Penal Code does not specifically identify whose discovery triggers the running of the statutes of limitations, but case law holds that the limitations period begins running on the date either the “victim” or a responsible “law enforcement official” learn of facts which, if investigated with reasonable diligence, would make that person aware a crime had occurred. (People v. Kronemyer (1987) 189 Cal.App.3d 314, 330-331 (Kronemyer); People v. Lopez (1997) 52 Cal.App.4th 233, 246 (Lopez).)
For purposes of determining whether a particular person’s discovery of facts will be deemed to trigger the running of the statute of limitations, a “victim” does not include a person with a “special relationship” to the actual victim of the defendant’s crime, nor does a “victim” include a person with a “special interest” in the subject matter of the crime. In short, the criminal discovery statutes extend no further than those persons who are direct victims of a crime, and those persons who are clothed with a status imposed by law.
Wallin and Klarich has years of experience in defending those accused of serious felonies. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in California and the charge may be barred by the statute of limitations, call Wallin & Klarich. Wallin & Klarich has over 30 years of experience in criminal defense. Call 1-888-280-6839 to speak to one of Wallin & Klarich’s aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorneys in California today. Also visit us on the web at www.wklaw.com.