Similar to time limits for civil lawsuits, state prosecutors are required to file criminal charges within the limits established by the criminal statute of limitations. These time limits start running at the time the crime was committed, but the "clock" may be paused if the suspect is trying to evade law enforcement or living out of state.
These time limits for criminal charges are meant to help preserve the integrity of evidence, including witness testimony, and maintain greater efficiency in the criminal justice system generally. Murder usually has no statute of limitations, but time limits typically are divided by crime classification (felony or misdemeanor).
Ohio Criminal Statute of Limitations at a Glance
In Ohio, there is no statute of limitations for murder or aggravated murder. That means people can be charged with these crimes no matter how much time has passed. Other serious felonies have a twenty five, twenty, or six year time limit.
Most misdemeanors have a two-year time limit during which charges have to be filed.
Additional details of Ohio's time limits for criminal charges are listed below. See Time Limits to Bring a Case: The Statute of Limitations to learn about similar time limits used in civil law.
||Criminal Statute of Limitations
||The length of time for which prosecution proceedings can be commenced for a crime.
- Murder; aggravated murder: none
- Rape; sexual battery; conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these offenses: 25 yrs.
- Voluntary manslaughter; involuntary manslaughter; kidnapping; trafficking in persons; gross sexual imposition; prostitution; aggravated arson; support of, including through money laundering, terrorism; terroristic threats; terrorism; possession, use or assembly of any chemical weapon; aggravated robbery or burglary; robbery; burglary; aggravated riot; assault; felonious or aggravated assault (if victim is peace officer); conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these offenses: 20 yrs.
- Most other felonies must be filed within 6 years
- Most misdemeanors must be filed within 2 years
- Minor misdemeanor: 6 mos.
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
- Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor: 20 yrs.
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
- The corpus delicti remains undiscovered.
- The accused purposely avoids prosecution, including departed this state or concealed the accused's identity.
- A prosecution against the accused based on the same conduct is pending in this state.
- Abuse or neglect of a child under 18 years of age or of a child with a disability under 21. Period of limitations will run once the victim reaches the age of a majority or a public children services agency has been notified of the abuse.
- If the period of limitation has expired, prosecution must be commenced for an offense of which an element is fraud or breach of a fiduciary duty: within one year; misconduct in office by a public servant: within 2 years; identity fraud: within 5 years
Note: State laws are constantly changing through decisions from higher courts, the enactment of newly signed legislation, and other means. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you should contact an Ohio criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Ohio Criminal Statute of Limitations: Related Resources