The Bill Cosby arrest and Mississippi's statute of limitations

For quite some time, women from across the country have been coming forward and accusing famed comedian Bill Cosby of criminal sexual conduct. The misconduct allegedly took place in different states at different times, and prosecutors were refusing to pursue formal criminal charges against Cosby for multiple reasons, but mainly because of the statute of limitations in place in the particular jurisdictions.

That changed today when Montgomery County, PA, prosecutors announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Cosby over allegations that he drugged and raped a Temple University professor in January of 2004.

Pennsylvania has a 12-year statute of limitation on felony sex crimes, meaning that prosecution had to begin within 12 years of the alleged crime. In Mississippi, it’s a different story. If a woman were to allege that Cosby raped her here in Mississippi, Cosby could be prosecuted at any time. Let’s look at why.

What is Mississippi’s Statute of Limitations?

Section 99-1-5 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 is Mississippi’s statute of limitations for criminal actions. Generally, there is a two-year limitation on prosecuting criminal cases in Mississippi. Several other crimes have statutes of limitation greater than the general 2-year statute. There is a 5-year statute of limitation on conspiracy to commit any crime, felonious assistance program fraud, or felonious abuse of a vulnerable person, and a 6-year statute on timber theft.

What Types of Crimes Have No Statute of Limitations?

However, a large number of felony crimes are excluded from the statute, meaning that there is no statute of limitations on them.

The following is a list of the crimes for which there is no time bar to prosecution in Mississippi under our statute of limitations (there may be other reasons a prosecution may not be brought):

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Aggravated Domestic Violence
  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Forgery
  • Counterfeiting
  • Robbery
  • Larceny
  • Rape
  • Embezzlement
  • False Pretense
  • Felonious Child Abuse
  • Gratification of Lust
  • Sexual Battery
  • Child Exploitation
  • Promoting Child Prostitution
  • Human Trafficking

Notably missing from the list of excepted crimes in Section 99-1-5 are all drug offenses, receipt or possession of stolen property, and misdemeanors.

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