The Statute of Limitations Is a Substantive Matter

In Cowan v. Superior Court (1996) 14 Cal. 4th 367 58 Cal. Rptr. 2d 458, 926 P.2d 438, the Supreme Court overruled a body of case law, commencing with People v. McGee (1934) 1 Cal. 2d 611 36 P.2d 378, to the extent it held the statute of limitations is jurisdictional in the fundamental subject matter sense. (Cowan, supra, 14 Cal. 4th at p. 374.) In doing so, however, the court expressly declined to abandon the well-established rule that the statute of limitations is a substantive matter which the prosecution must prove by a preponderance of evidence at trial if the defense puts the prosecution to its proof. (Ibid.; see also People v. Bunn (1996) 53 Cal. App. 4th 227, 234 61 Cal. Rptr. 2d 734 and cases cited statute of limitations is a matter of defense if asserted at trial, which prosecution must prove by a preponderance of the evidence, disapproved on other grounds in People v. Frazer (1999) 21 Cal. 4th 737, 765 88 Cal. Rptr. 2d 312, 982 P.2d 180 statute of limitations is not a "defense" for ex post facto purposes; People v. Fine (1997) 52 Cal. App. 4th 1258, 1267 61 Cal. Rptr. 2d 254 if facts concerning due diligence regarding statute of limitations are disputed, it becomes an issue for the trier of fact; People v. Lopez (1997) 52 Cal. App. 4th 233, 250 60 Cal. Rptr. 2d 511.) The Cowan majority did not suggest the prosecutor's duty to prove its case is different in this instance than it is with any other "element" of its case.