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What Are the Statutes of Limitation for Theft in IL?

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Nearly every legal claim, whether civil or criminal, has a time limit. If a plaintiff or prosecutor waits too long to charge a defendant or file a civil claim, they lose the right to do so. The time limit for bringing a legal claim is known as a “statute of limitations.” Statutes of limitations for criminal cases are meant to prevent defendants from being arrested for crimes that took place decades earlier when all pertinent evidence has likely disappeared over time. The statute of limitations in a given case is set by law based on the crime that was committed. To learn about the statute of limitations in Illinois for theft crimes, read on. If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime in Chicago, call a seasoned Illinois criminal defense attorney for help.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?

For most crimes, the statute of limitations starts the moment a crime has been completed. For crimes that span an extended period, such as a criminal conspiracy, the limitations period starts when the last “overt act” in furtherance of the crime is completed.

Illinois has a general statute of limitations that applies to most crimes. In most cases, prosecutors have 18 months to bring charges for misdemeanors and three years to bring charges for felonies. Some crimes have longer time limits, and some crimes (such as first-degree murder) have no limit.

Applying the Statute of Limitations to Illinois Theft Crimes

In most cases, the general statute of limitations will apply to theft crimes in Illinois. If you are charged with theft or receiving stolen property valuing $500 or less, you are subject to misdemeanor charges and an 18-month statute of limitations. Theft of amounts greater than $500, robbery, and burglary are chargeable as felonies, typically with a statute of limitations of three years.

Certain specific crimes have a longer statute of limitations. Forgery has no time limit. Theft of property exceeding $100,000 has a statute of limitations of seven years. Identify theft and financial exploitation of an elderly person both carry a statute of limitations of seven years as well.

Additionally, there are certain circumstances under which a statute of limitations will be “tolled,” or paused, extending the prosecution’s time limit to bring a case. Circumstances include when the defendant is not located within the state, goes into immediate hiding after the crime is committed, is on active military duty, is a public official charged with theft of public funds while in office, and others.


If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Illinois, protect your future and your family by seeking representation from dedicated and effective Chicagoland criminal defense lawyers. Contact the Carol Stream offices of Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt at 630-665-9600.

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