IN criminal law, statute of limitation, tolling

Indiana case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: criminal law, statute of limitation.

John O. Study v. State of Indiana. IN criminal law, statute of limitation

During 2006 and 2007, there was an epidemic of bank robberies in Boone County, Indiana. The robber was dressed the same way, had a similarly described weapon, and made the demand in the same way. Police concluded that the crimes were connected, and a vehicle connected with one of the robberies was spotted on property owned by John Study. After a search warrant was executed, Study was charged with the next to last robbery. He was arrested in Florida in late 2007, but was not returned to Indiana until 2012. At that time, he was charged with the remaining robberies, but the five-year statute of limitations had run on the first robbery.

The state argued, however, that the statute, Indiana Code 35-41-4-2, was tolled due to concealment. Tolling applies if the accused "conceals evidence of the offense" and sufficient evidence is not known or discoverable by the prosecutor. The court noted that this has traditionally been construed to mean concealment of evidence that the offense had been committed. The state argued that an amendment to the statute should be construed to mean any evidence regarding the offense. The high court disagreed, however, and held that there must be some active intentional concealment. It noted that too broad a reading would preclude the statute of limitation from ever applying, since defendant's typically conceal that they have committed a crime. The court pointed out that there is not a requirement that the defendant leave incriminating evidence at the scene of the crime in order to avoid tolling.

In this case, the police were aware of the robbery taking place, and even had evidence linking the defendant to the other robberies. For this reason, the court dismissed the conviction arising out of the first robbery, reducing the defendant's sentence by 15 years, reducing it to only 53.5 years.

No. 06S04-1407-CR-461 (Ind. Feb. 4, 2015).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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