Ace Attorney Wiki
Phoenix Wright
When a case's statute of limitations runs out, legally, the case never happened.
Miles Edgeworth
Three days from now, DL-6 will be closed... forever.

A statute of limitations is a time limit within which legal action can be taken on a given event after it has occurred. Once the time limit has expired, any cases directly involved with the incident will be closed permanently, almost as if the incident never happened. Murders are given a 15-year time limit, while thefts are given 7 years. Cases considered solved are given a much stricter time limit of two years before evidence transferal begins.


There are several conditions under which the time limit can be put on hold and extended:

  • If a suspect goes to a foreign country, then the time limit is put on hold until they return.
  • If any possible accomplices are put on trial, then the time limit is put on hold until the accomplice's verdict is reached.
  • If charges are pressed to demand compensation, then the time limit is put on hold until this procedure is cleared up.

The latter two conditions are interpreted in such a way that the charge must be successful for the time limit extension to take effect. This can cause a culprit's conviction to rely on the guilt of an alleged accomplice.


Because of the statute of limitations, the 2016 trial of Miles Edgeworth for the DL-6 Incident had to be conducted right after Edgeworth had been acquitted for the murder of Robert Hammond, exactly 15 years after the murder of Gregory Edgeworth.

The time limit on the IS-7 Incident ran out on December 2018, accounting for Dane Gustavia's three-year stay in Zheng Fa. However, the limit could be extended by a year by virtue of the fact that Jeffrey Master had been tried as an accomplice to the murder, and declared guilty after a year of deliberations. Once Miles Edgeworth proved Gustavia's guilt during his investigation, it was obvious that Master was completely innocent, but this would render the extension void.

On a related note, Katherine Hall stole the sherbet ice sculptures made by the victim of the IS-7 Incident, Isaac Dover, during the investigation into the murder. The statute of limitations on the theft ran out seven years later.

In real life[]

United States[]

There is no statute of limitations for murder in the United States. The statute of limitations for theft varies by state and by the severity of the potential theft charge (i.e. whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of the stolen property).


The game's statute of limitations was based on Japan's own for murder and other capital crimes as it stood in 2001. This time limitation later increased to 25 years in 2005, but this only applied to those crimes that occurred after the new revision was established. The law concerning Japan's statute of limitations for serious capital crimes that occurred in 1995 and thereafter with a maximum penalty of death, such as murder and murder-robbery, was abolished in 2010, giving post-1994 murder cases an infinite investigation time. Other crimes that resulted in the death of another individual for which the punishment is a short to long prison term are still subject to time limitations.