The Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure establish time limitations as to when a criminal defendant is charged and to be brought to trial, and these protections are guaranteed in the United States Constitution and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.
But in many criminal cases, there are a variety of delays that often occur. Delays can result from simple discovery or evidentiary issues; witness issues; or in some cases, neglect.
By way of background, defendants are protected from potential criminal charges through the Statute of Limitations or where the initiation of criminal charges are delayed. By statute. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 277, Section 63, many felonies must be charged within 10 or 15 years from the date of the commission of the alleged crime. The exception is murder, however, for which there is no statute of limitation. By contrast, most misdemeanor offenses must be charged within 6 years from the alleged commission of the crime.