Expiration of the statute of limitations as a mechanism for exemption from criminal liability
Author: Daria Vasina, Dynasty Law & Investment Lawyer
Article 49 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine determines the conditions and terms of application of the statute of limitations, ie creates a mechanism for releasing a person from criminal liability. At the same time, the legislator introduced into the norm the notion that over time the relevance of the crime is lost, as well as the severity of public danger, because it is a long-term positive social behavior after the crime, in fact, is in the process of repentance and correction.
The concept of application of this norm is based on the understanding of the very purpose of punishment, which is to correct the offender and prevent him from committing new crimes, and as a consequence the expiration of the statute of limitations actually devalues the goal of punishment.
Objective conditions that allow the application of the statute of limitations can be considered the occurrence of the following terms from the date of the person’s crime to the date of entry into force of the sentence:
1) two years – in the case of a criminal offense for which the punishment is less severe than restriction of liberty;
2) three years – in the case of committing a criminal offense punishable by restriction of liberty, or in the case of committing a minor crime punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years;
3) five years – in the case of a minor crime, except as provided in paragraph 2 of this part;
4) ten years – in the case of a serious crime;
5) fifteen years – in the case of a particularly serious crime.
The legislator also defined in this norm certain conditions for the possibility of suspension and interruption of the statute of limitations.
In addition, there are some nuances of the application of the statute of limitations to a person who has committed a serious crime, or a crime for which it is possible to apply a penalty of life imprisonment. Such an issue can be resolved only by a court.
In order to correctly apply the statute of limitations, it is necessary to understand exactly when the statute of limitations begins. Thus, the starting point of the statute of limitations is the day of the crime. That is, in practice, it should be assumed that the statute of limitations starts from 00:00 hours of the day following the day of the crime, and ends at 24 hours of the last day of the period provided for in Art. 49 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.