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Is there a time limit on charging someone with a crime?

Unless you're an avid follower of criminal law, you're probably like most people across Georgia who only have a vague understanding of the law. There are some laws we learned as adults while there are other laws -- such as those concerning murder and theft -- that were ingrained in us during our early years. But while we might not be able to cite these laws verbatim, most people know that breaking them could lead to criminal charges and serious legal consequences down the road.

But did you know that prosecutors, just like plaintiffs in a personal injury claim, have a set time limit in which they can file charges after an alleged crime? Called a statute of limitations, this window of time ensures that evidence and witnesses' memories do not degrade so much so that a fair verdict cannot be reached. In today's post, we will look at this statute of limitations.

Here in Georgia there are statutes of limitation for both misdemeanors and felonies. For misdemeanors, there is a two-year window after a crime is believed to have been committed in which prosecutors may file charges against you. For most felonies, that window of time is doubled to four years.

It's important for our readers to note, however, that not all felonies fall into the four-year statute of limitations window. Crimes that involve children, rape and/or other crimes that may go unreported for several years can be extended for years; and if DNA evidence establishes the identity of an individual in certain crimes, the statute may be waived entirely.

In instances of murder, Georgia has no statute of limitation, which means a person could be charged with the crime 10 or even 15 years down the road.

Whether a crime has a small statute of limitation or a larger window of time, all crimes should be taken incredibly seriously here in Georgia. Because many crimes can result in hefty fines or even time in jail, getting the help of a skilled lawyer is often considered a necessity. We here at Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum can provide that help.

Source: FindLaw, "Georgia Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws," Accessed Feb. 11, 2015

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

918 Ponce de Leon Avenue, N.E. Atlanta, GA 30306 Phone: 404-692-5168 Fax: 404-872-1622 Atlanta Law Office Map