Martin v. Superior Court
In Martin v. Superior Court, 135 Ariz. 99, 100, 659 P.2d 652, 653 (1983), the defendant argued that his prosecution was barred by the statute of limitations in effect when the crimes were committed, then A.R.S. 13-106, which provided for a five-year time limitation. 135 Ariz. at 100, 659 P.2d at 653.
The State argued that the prosecution was not barred based on the new statute of limitations adopted as part of Arizona's then "new criminal code" effective October 1, 1978, A.R.S. 13-107(B)(1), which provided for a seven-year time limit. Id.
Specifically, petitioner contends that the state is barred from bringing the charges described in counts two through seven of the indictment because the governing statute of limitations period of five years, former A.R.S. 13-106, had expired before the indictment was filed. The state responds that present A.R.S. 13-107 extended the statute of limitations from five to seven years for all offenses occurring before October 1, 1978, and for which the five-year statute of limitations had not run as of that date. Id.
To decide the issue, the court noted that "the question presented is one of statutory construction." Id. at 99, 659 P.2d at 652.
To resolve the question, the court looked no further than the language of the new code. Id. at 100, 659 P.2d at 653. Relying on Section 179 of Chapter 142 of the 1977 Session Laws, the court held: "It is clear that the legislature has directed that the new criminal code shall only operate prospectively." Id.
When it rejected the State's argument that the statute was "purely procedural" and thus applicable to the defendant, the court reiterated that Section 179 expressly stated: "The provisions of this act do not apply to . . . any offense committed before the effective date of this act . . . ." Id.
Thus, "any inquiry into the technical nature of the statute of limitations is simply not relevant." Id.