A.R.S. 13-107 Statute of Limitations of Criminal Actions

In State v. Jackson, 208 Ariz. 56, 90 P.3d 793 (App. 2004), assuming any offense had been committed, the identity of the suspect was known. Id. n.3 & n.14. Therefore, the Court did not address the question whether it is the government's discovery of only an offense or of both the offense and the offender that triggers the running of the limitations period. Id. n.14. Nor did we address the effect, if any, of 13-107(E), because the state conceded that the 1997 statutory amendment did not affect the case. Jackson, 208 Ariz. 56, n.3, 90 P.3d at 796 n.3. Two years after Jackson, the Court decided Taylor v. Cruikshank, 214 Ariz. 40, 148 P.3d 84 (App. 2006). There, unlike in Jackson, the state knew immediately that offenses had been committed. Taylor, 214 Ariz. 40, PP3, 5, 148 P.3d at 85, 86. The issue presented in Taylor, and not addressed in Jackson, was "whether the statute requires discovery of an offense or discovery of the offender." Id. P 13. Based on "the language, historical context, and purposes" of 13-107(B), the Court concluded that "the limitation period runs from the time the state either discovered or, with the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, that an offense had been committed." Taylor, 214 Ariz. 40, P27, 148 P.3d at 91. Because the state knew the crimes in Taylor had been committed in 1994, the indictments filed in 2006, after completion of DNA analyses, were untimely. Id. PP 3, 5-6, 29. Significantly, in Taylor, as in Jackson, the state did not argue 13-107(E) applied to toll the statute of limitations. Rather, the parties agreed that the case was governed by the version of 13-107 in effect in 1994, when the offenses were committed. Taylor, 214 Ariz. 40, P8, 148 P.3d at 86. In State v. Gum, 214 Ariz. 397, 153 P.3d 418 (App. 2007), two victims were sexually assaulted in 1991, but the assailant's identity was not discovered until 2002. 214 Ariz. 397, PP2-3, 153 P.3d at 420. Shortly thereafter the defendant was indicted. Id. P 4. Upholding the trial court's refusal to dismiss the charges as time-barred, Division One of this court concluded that 13-107(E) "applies to cases in which the existing limitations period had not yet expired on the amendment's effective date" and "extends the limitations period in such cases." Id. P 13. The court stated: "Whether characterized as a tolling provision or an extension of the limitations period, A.R.S. 13-107(E) serves to extend the limitations period for all offenses included in subsection (E) for which the limitations period was unexpired on July 21, 1997." Gum, 214 Ariz. 397, P29, 153 P.3d at 426. Because the seven-year limitations period for Gum's offenses had not expired by that date and because the sexual assault charges were serious offenses within subsection (E), the court ruled "the limitations period was extended and Gum's prosecution was not time-barred." Id.