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770. Defenses—Statute of Limitations

Section 3282 of Title 18 applies a five-year statute of limitations to all criminal contempt actions encompassed by 18 U.S.C. § 401. If, however, the contemptuous act also constitutes a criminal offense under any statute of the United States or under the laws of any state in which the act was committed, then the contempt must be prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. § 402. Under 18 U.S.C. §  3285, a one-year statute of limitations applies to contempt actions brought under 18 U.S.C. § 402. It should be noted, however, that 18 U.S.C. § 402 is inapplicable to "contempts committed in disobedience of any lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command entered in any suit or action brought or prosecuted in the name of, or on behalf of, the United States."

The "continuing act" concept is applicable to criminal contempt actions. United States v. J. Myer Schine, 260 F.2d 552, 555-56, (2nd Cir. 1958), cert. denied, 358 U.S. 934 (1959).

[cited in JM 9-39.000]

Updated January 21, 2020