Prosecutors have time limits within which to file formal charges against defendants. These time limits are collectively referred to as the statute of limitations. The main reason for these limits it to ensure convictions are obtained with evidence, whether it's eyewitness testimony or physical evidence, that has not yet deteriorated. As in other states, Georgia criminal statute of limitations laws allow longer periods of time for rape, crimes against children, and other offenses where victims may not report the crime until years later.
Georgia's criminal statute of limitations also specifically addresses the use of DNA to identity suspects (while clearing the falsely accused). Specifically, it says prosecution for armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery "may be commenced at any time when [DNA] evidence is used to establish the identity of the accused."
While the statute lists specific felonies and their corresponding time limits for bringing charges, those not listed have a four-year statute of limitations. All misdemeanors have a two-year statute of limitations.
The basics of Georgia criminal statute of limitations laws are listed in the following table. See Details on State Criminal Statute of Limitations for more information.
|Code Section||17-3-1, et seq.|
|Felonies||Forcible rape: 15 yrs.; Murder: none; crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment: 7 yrs.; others: 4 yrs.; crimes against victims under 14: 18 yrs.; for victims under 16 yrs. of age of offenses such as rape, sodomy, incest, and child molestation (occurring after 7/1/92), the statute will run upon the victim turning 16 or when the violation is reported, whichever occurs earlier. If DNA evidence establishes identity of accused in armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery: none|
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run||Nonresident; when person or crime is unknown|
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Georgia Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
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Depending on the severity of the crime, a conviction can deprive you of your freedom for a period of months or years and can have lasting impacts on your life. For this reason, if you've been charged with a crime in Georgia, it's best to contact a local criminal defense attorney who will ensure that your rights are protected and defend you in court, if necessary.
Contact a qualified attorney.