statute of limitations (idea)
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|After a certain time period (arbitrarily designated by the government under which you live), you can no longer be prosecuted for a crime. For instance, if someone starts looking through archived security tapes and notices that you shoplifted something twenty years ago, the statute of limitations prevents you from being brought to trial.|
In the USA, statutes of limitations are set by the individual states. Most high-order felonies like first-degree murder, or kidnapping don't have statutes of limitations, and other crimes like fraud have statutes of limitations of around 3 years.