I was looking into the criminal law application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in the United States of America.

Since, to the best of my knowledge, it is a Federal crime the statute of limitations is usually five years, however I know individual Acts can set their own time-bars.

Could somebody confirm what the statute of limitations is, and anything which would stop the clock from counting down?

  • This seems like an oddly specific question, so I think it may be possible that you have committed such a crime and are now concerned that the statute of limitation may not apply as you believed it would. You might do well to consult an actual attorney where you can discuss the specifics freely.
    – jwh20
    Jan 12, 2023 at 17:18
  • @jwh20 Not at all, I work in cyber security but I am only familiar with the UK system. Jan 16, 2023 at 16:52

1 Answer 1


Unless stated otherwise in law, the Statute of Limitations for filing of criminal charges is 5 years from the date of the actions charged, although where specified in law, it can be extended for a predefined time based on the crime and the entity committing a crime. Major Fraud ($1,000,000+) will be extended to 7 years if committed by anyone who is not committing the crime at the behest of a Bank (if you are, this will be extended to 10 years) AND the victim of the fraud is the United States Government. Additionally, if charges are dismissed in court for reasons unrelated to the statute of limitations, the court may grant a sixth month extension from the date of the statute of limitations to refile charges, and may grant an extension at the court's discretion if evidence is in a foreign nation. All if the crime occurs over multiple dates, the date of the last action in the charge will be the start of the Statute of Limitations.

The Federal Government has no statute of limitation for any crime if it is a Capital offense, a terrorist charge, or a sexual offense against a child.

At a state level, this will depend on the states in question.


  • Does that mean committing a crime that isn't detected for five years would mean I might get away with it?
    – gnasher729
    Jan 13, 2023 at 19:11
  • For the Federal U.S. Government, yes. But typically, you'll need to look at state laws as they tend to handle the bulk of crimes committed in the U.S. and may have different statute of limitations, meaning that even if the feds won't go after you for that reason, a particular state may.
    – hszmv
    Jan 13, 2023 at 19:51
  • I thought the clock stopped ticking whilst you are a fugitive or outside of the USA? Jan 16, 2023 at 16:51
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    @user5623335 That's where statute of limitations comes into play provided the hacker never hacked the system after the last breach. There may be probable cause to search his property for evidence to verify that is the case.
    – hszmv
    Jan 23, 2023 at 17:26
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    @user5623335 it might also still be prosecutable if the hacking was part of a larger crime that by law had a longer than 5 year sentence.
    – hszmv
    Jan 23, 2023 at 17:29

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