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In Minnesota, prosecuting an individual for assault and battery comes with strict time limitations. Understanding the statute of limitations for these violent crimes is critical, as charges must be filed within a certain timeframe, or they may be dismissed.

Our criminal defense attorneys at Martine Law explain Minnesota’s laws on time limits for assault and battery prosecutions below.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Assault in Minnesota?

The statute of limitations sets legal deadlines to file a lawsuit. In Minnesota, the deadline to file a civil lawsuit for assault or battery is usually two years after the incident happened.

Under Minnesota Statutes Section 541.07, you have two years to sue someone for:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • False imprisonment
  • Any other personal injury caused by harm to your body or rights

For example, if someone assaulted you on January 1, 2023, you would need to file a lawsuit by January 1, 2025. However, Minnesota law gives victims six years to sue if the assault or battery was domestic abuse under Section 541.05.

Domestic abuse is defined as physical harm, stalking, or other abuse by a family member or romantic partner. If domestic abuse caused the assault or battery, the six years does not start when the incident happened. Instead, it starts when the domestic abuse situation has ended for good.

This exception gives domestic violence victims more time to file a lawsuit if there’s been a pattern of repeated assaults or abuse.

What Factors Determine the Statute of Limitations?

Statutes of limitations are determined based on a combination of policy considerations and practical realities regarding different types of legal claims.

Some of the key factors that impact statutes of limitations include:

  • Type of harm – Claims involving personal injuries generally have longer statutes of limitations (e.g. 2-6 years) compared to breaches of oral or written contracts (e.g. 4 years or less). Lengthier periods for personal injury allow for challenges like identifying faults and quantifying damages.
  • Discovery of harm – Statutes typically run from when the plaintiff reasonably should have discovered the injury or wrongdoing. Additional time is necessary for realization and investigation. “Discovery rules” are especially pertinent for claims like medical malpractice or fraud.
  • Severity of conduct – Crimes or violations with severe public policy implications often come with lengthier statutes or even no time limitations on prosecution or penalties. Examples include murder, rape, embezzlement, and child abuse.
  • Evidence preservation – Memories fade, and documentation gets lost over time. Shorter statutes provide fairness by allowing cases to be brought when supporting evidence is available. Though advances in forensic evidence can expand time limits.
  • Due process – Restrictions can’t be so severe as to make seeking justice essentially impossible. Courts may rule statutes unconstitutional if they seem procedurally unfair.

In the end, statutes of limitations reflect a balancing act between providing plaintiffs adequate opportunity to pursue valid claims and ensuring defendants are timely protected from stale suits. The interplay of the above factors leads legislatures to set different time limits depending on the civil cause of action or criminal offense.

How Does the Statute of Limitations Affect My Assault Case?

Since assault charges must be filed within a limited number of years, the statute of limitations can significantly affect assault cases in Minnesota courts.

Here are some examples:

  • Defendants cannot be charged for an assault after the statute of limitations expires, even if new evidence emerges.
  • Prosecutors may rush to file charges near the end of the statute of limitations period to avoid missing the deadline. However, a rushed investigation can weaken their case.
  • Defendants sometimes try to “run the clock” by leaving Minnesota until the statute of limitations expires. However, this pauses rather than resets the clock.
  • Victims who wish to pursue criminal charges need to report assaults promptly. Waiting risks the statute of limitations expiring.

Because timeliness is crucial, those involved in assault investigations must understand when the statute of limitations runs out. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help navigate all the intricacies of these Minnesota laws.

How Martine Law Firm Can Help With Your Assault Case

At Martine Law, our skilled criminal defense attorneys regularly handle complex assault cases in Minnesota. We understand how to leverage the statute of limitations to build the strongest possible defense for our clients.

To discuss your specific case, contact us today for a case review. Our in-depth knowledge of Minnesota’s statutes of limitation allows us to maximize positive outcomes for each unique situation.
With an aggressive defense informed by the ticking clock, we can fight for reduced charges or a dismissal.