For most crimes committed in Ohio or any other state for that matter, there are time limits for how long prosecutors have to press charges. These time limits are often referred to as the statute of limitations.
Statutes of limitations are common in both civil and criminal proceedings. For example, an individual might have two years to bring a lawsuit against another person for injuries suffered in a car accident. However, the actual statute of limitations for a particular crime varies greatly from state to state and depending on the severity of the crime and the age of who committed it.
In Ohio, the most common criminal statutes of limitations are:
- Six Months: for misdemeanors committed by minors
- Two years: most misdemeanors committed by individuals 18 older
- Six Years: most felonies
- 20 years: kidnapping, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, money laundering, and a host of other crimes
- 25 years: rape and sexual battery
As you might have noticed, murder is not found on the list. That is because there is no statute of limitations for murder.
Statute of Limitations: Reasons for and Against
Most jurisdictions have statutes of limitations for many different crimes. Many see this as a good thing as it causes police investigators and prosecuting attorneys to work diligently to solve each case and bring charges as quickly as possible.
That is of course unless the charges are murder. Most, if not all, states don’t have a statute of limitations when it comes to homicide. There are several reasons this is the case. These reasons include:
- The seriousness of the crime. Because the taking of another human life is the gravest of all crimes a person can commit, it is generally agreed upon that a person should be charged with murder no matter when they have been “caught.”
- To deter murderous acts. Some individuals could be emboldened to commit a crime as serious as murder if they think they can get away with it or hide the evidence long enough to let the statute of limitations run out. By allowing justice to be served even years later, it could keep people from committing murder.
- Sometimes innocent people are convicted. No justice system is perfect and there have been many cases where innocent people have gone to jail for murder while the guilty party remains on the outside. If there were a statute of limitations on murder it might disincentivize authorities from finding the real killer and exonerating those who have been wrongly put in prison.
- Advances in technology. There have been numerous technological advances over the last several decades that have made identifying the guilty party in a murder investigation more likely. Because there is no statute of limitations in Ohio, police, and prosecutors are sometimes able to solve the toughest cases and bring justice to the families that have lost a loved one.
If you are facing serious charges, for murder or another crime that carries significant jail time, you need to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A good criminal defense attorney will examine your case, conduct a thorough investigation of all the evidence and testimony the state is planning to use against you, and do everything in their power to get the best possible outcome in your case.
In some cases, arresting officers may have obtained evidence unlawfully or infringed on your rights in several ways. If that is the case, your lawyer will find out and get evidence or witness statements dismissed.
Whether it be reduced charges, a plea deal, or getting charges dismissed altogether, a seasoned criminal defense lawyer is the key to successfully navigating any criminal matter. He or she will stand by your side through to the end, and, if the case goes to trial, do everything in his or her power to secure a not guilty verdict.