Statute of Limitations Law

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When you get accused of a crime, the state is legally obligated to bring the charges against you within the specified Statute of Limitations (SOL). SOL is a law which forbids the state from charging someone after a number of specified years have passed. Most crimes have a SOL while other crimes do not. In this article, we will briefly review the different statute of limitations for various crimes. 

How does statute of limitations work?

Statute of Limitations apply once the crime has been commenced. That means, once the crime has been committed, the state has so many specified years to charge the person. After the period of the statute has run out, the accused is essentially free.

Statutes of limitations generally require an accused person to be:

  • In the state where the crime was committed;
  • Gainfully employed; and
  • Visible (not living in hiding or under an assumed identity)

Basically, the person must remain “catchable.” If the authorities fail to discover the accused living in the open within a specified amount of time, society has determined that at this point, the accused should be able to live free from the possibility of prosecution. If the person moves, it tolls or stops the statute of limitations and the time does not restart until the person returns back into the state where the crime was committed.

Statute of Limitations: O.C.G.A. 17-3-1

(a) A prosecution for murder may be commenced at any time.

(b) Prosecution for other crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment must be commenced within seven years after the commission of the crime except as provided by subsection (c.1) of this Code section; provided, however, that prosecution for the crime of forcible rape must be commenced within 15 years after the commission of the crime.

(c) Prosecution for felonies other than those specified in subsections (a), (b), and (c.1) of this Code section must be commenced within four years after the commission of the crime, provided that prosecution for felonies committed against victims who are at the time of the commission of the offense under the age of 18 years must be commenced within seven years after the commission of the crime.

(c.1) A prosecution for the following offenses may be commenced at any time when deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence is used to establish the identity of the accused:

  •  Armed robbery
  •  Kidnapping
  •  Rape
  •  Aggravated child molestation
  •  Aggravated sodomy; or
  •  Aggravated sexual battery

(d) Prosecution for misdemeanors must be commenced within two years after the commission of the crime.

How can statute of limitations help your case?

Again, if the time limit runs out, the prosecutor can’t charge the accused with the crime.

Why Bixon Law?

Bixon Law is a criminal defense firm only. We handle all types of criminal cases, and yes, traffic violations are criminal cases! If you have been cited for violating a traffic law on private or public property, call us today!


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