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Under GA criminal code what are the statute of limitations on a child cruelty charges

Decatur, GA |

Can a child cruelity case be indicted after 6 years?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Prosecution for felonies other than those specified in subsections (a), (b), and (c.1) of this Code section must be commenced within four years after the commission of the crime, provided that prosecution for felonies committed against victims who are at the time of the commission of the offense under the age of 18 years must be commenced within seven years after the commission of the crime. O.C.G.A. 17-3-1.

    Therefore, because cruelty to children in the 1st and 2nd degree is committed against a victim who is under the age of 18, the statute of limitations is 7 years.

    However, if the person is charged with cruelty to children in the 3rd degree and it is there first or second offense, then that is a misdemeanor. And the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor is 2 years.


  2. The question presented is whether a cruelty to children case can be indicted after 6 years?

    The answer is as of July 1, 2002, the State would have as a general matter seven years from the date of the commission of the crime ... pursuant to O.C.G.A. §17-3-1( c).

    However, before July 1, 2002, the seven year statute of limitations only applied to victims who were at the time of the commission of the offense under the age of 14.

    Accordingly, if the crime occurred before said date, and the victim was 14 years or older the statute of limitations would be four years. See Thompkins v. State, 265 Ga. App. 760 (2004)

    In Tompkins v. State, 265 Ga App 760 (2004), the Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court should have barred prosecution for some of the acts of alleged molestation because some acts were alleged to have occurred after the victim turned 14 and, based on O.C.G.A. §§ 17-3-1(c), -2.1(a) had to be brought within 4 years of the victim attaining the age of 16. Prosecution for felonies other than [murder and other crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment] must be commenced within four years after the commission of the crime, provided that prosecution for felonies committed against victims who are at the time of the commission of the offense under the age of 14 years must be commenced within seven years after the commission of the crime.

    Any of the acts of molestation that occurred between the child's fourteenth birthday and the last date alleged in the indictment, January 14, 1997, would not fall under the seven-year time limit for felonies committed against victims under fourteen. Rather, any such offenses committed when the victim was fourteen and fifteen would instead be governed by the four-year statute of limitation. Since the indictment was returned almost six months after that expiration date, the state was barred by the statute of limitation from prosecuting the defendant for any acts of molestation that occurred when the child was fourteen and fifteen.

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