What You Need To Know About Georgia Statute of Limitations Criminal Charges

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A reputable attorney from Philip Kim Law, P.C. can explain the legal details surrounding Georgia Statute of Limitations Criminal Laws. Contact us for info.


Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.

Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.

Published on August 29, 2022.


The Georgia Criminal Statute of Limitations for Criminal Charges Under Statute

Georgia, like many other states, has time restrictions for various offenses, which are known as statutes of limitations. For example, if someone committed a felony theft, the state has 4 years to charge them from the time when the crime took place.

If you are charged after 5 years, your case will be dismissed due to the statute of limitations. Consult with Gwinnett County criminal lawyers in your area about your case to learn more.


Why Does the Statute of Limitations Exist?


The primary reason for establishing statutes of limitations is to ensure fairness in legal proceedings. Physical evidence such as DNA or fingerprints can be lost over a long period of time, resulting in an unjust outcome for the prosecution or defense. Statutes of limitations also protect possible defendants from unfair litigation or other legal action.

Georgia’s criminal statutes of limitations, like those in other states, enable for more extended periods of time for sexual assault, crimes against children such as aggravated child molestation, and other felonies where victims might not even report the offense for years.

Although victims of civil or criminal offenses may believe that a statute of limitations barring criminal charges of their perpetrator denies them justice, such statutes exist to protect the interests of justice.

Eyewitness Testimony

Relevant eyewitness testimony is especially concerning, particularly if no official declaration was made by a witness closer to the time that the alleged offense was made.

People’s memories deteriorate and become less dependable over time, and it is deemed unreasonable to assume witnesses to remember events from an incident that happened decades ago.

It is also believed that bringing a complaint against an alleged offender for an offense committed in the distant past is simply unjust. Of course, this type of investigation limitation is much more prevalent in civil cases than in serious criminal proceedings.

Depending on the circumstances of your situation, a superior court lawyer might be able to assist you in building a strong case in your best interest, especially if you were a minor victim when the crime took place.

The Workings of Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Georgia

Once the crime has been committed, the statute of limitations kicks in. That is, once the crime is committed, the state has a set number of years to charge the accused person. When the statute of limitations expires, the accused is practically free.

In general, statutes of limitations necessitate an accused person to be:

  • In the state where the crime occurred

  • Noticeable (not living in disguising or under a false name)

As long as the authorities fail to locate the alleged living in the open within a certain period of time, the suspect should live without fear of prosecution. If the person moves, the statute of limitations is tolled or suspended, and the time does not begin again until the person comes back to the state where the crime took place.

What Crimes Have a Statute of Limitations in Georgia?

Some crimes in Georgia do not have a statute of limitations. Charges for these crimes can be filed at any time, regardless of how long it has been since the crime happened.

All murder cases in Georgia have no statute of limitations, as do major crimes such as rape, kidnapping, or armed robbery when proven with physical evidence, such as DNA evidence. To comprehend how the statutes of limitations implement in your area, it is best to speak with Criminal Lawyers in Lawrenceville.

Georgia’s criminal law statutes of limitations specify the following time limits for crimes:

  • Murder: no time limit
  • Serious felonies including rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, kidnapping, or armed robbery when provable with DNA evidence: no time limit
  • Crimes involving minors under 16, including rape, sexual offenses, and First-degree cruelty to children: no time limit
  • Forcible rape: 15 years
  • Crimes punishable by life imprisonment or death, including kidnapping and armed robbery: 7 years

While the state law gives particular felonies and the time frames for filing charges, those not listed have a four-year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for all misdemeanors in the state of Georgia is two years.

When Does the Criminal Statute of Limitations Start in Georgia?

In the state of Georgia, the statute of limitations typically starts running the moment the crime ends, including crimes that were committed over a period of time. Prosecutors must institute legal proceedings at any time between the date of the offense and the statute of limitations.

Rape, sodomy, incest, and child molestation committed against minors under 16 years between July 1, 1992, and June 30, 2012, are the exceptions to this rule. The time limit starts running after the victim turns 16 or after the authorities receive a report of the crime, whichever occurs earlier.

Times During which the statute of limitations doesn’t apply

The statute of limitations does not apply to the following situations:

  • The accused does not reside in Georgia or is a fugitive

  • The identity of the accused is not known

  • The crime is not known

  • When an employee or officer of the federal government is accused of theft by conversion of property committed during the course of their employment

  • Guardians and trustees are accused of stealing or converting the property of their wards and beneficiaries

Further, if a victim is 65 or older when a crime occurs, the time limit does not begin until the crime is reported or the authorities discover the violation. 

A case must be brought within 15 years under these circumstances unless the general statute of limitations is more than 15 years for the offense. 

To learn more about Georgia’s statute of limitations and how it can affect your case, contact Philip Kim Law, P.C., for a free consultation at (678) 201-0496.

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368 West Pike Street, Suite 203
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
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