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Statutes of Limitations

Sexual Offense Statutes

Ga. Code § 16-6-1 Rape

  • Punishable by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, by imprisonment for life, or by a split sentence that is a term of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and not exceeding life imprisonment, followed by probation for life.  (But see Kennedy v. Louisiana, 128 S.Ct. 2641 (2008) (holding that the Eighth Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishment clause does not permit a state to impose the death penalty for the crime of rape of a child that does not result in the death of the victim).)

Ga. Code § 16-6-2 Sodomy, aggravated sodomy

  • Sodomy: punishable by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years
  • Aggravated sodomy: punishable by imprisonment for life or by a split sentence that is a term of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and not exceeding life imprisonment, followed by probation for life.  If the victim is at least 13 but less than 16 and the offender is 18 or younger and is no more than four years older than the victim, the offender shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Ga. Code § 16-6-3 Statutory rape (victim under age of 16 not a spouse of the offender)

  • Punishable by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years; provided, however, that if the person so convicted is 21 years of age or older, such person shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 10 nor more than 20 years
  • Misdemeanor if victim is at least 14 but less than 16 years of age and the perpetrator is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than four years older than the victim

Ga. Code § 16-6-4 Child molestation, aggravated child molestation

  • First offense: punishable by imprisonment for not less than five nor more than 20 years
  • Second or subsequent conviction: punishable by imprisonment for not less than ten years nor more than 30 years or by imprisonment for life
  • Aggravated child molestation: punishable by imprisonment for life or by a split sentence that is a term of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and not exceeding life imprisonment, followed by probation for life; misdemeanor if victim is at least 13 but less than 16, perpetrator is 18 or below and no more than four years older than victim; or the basis of the charge is sodomy or there is child molestation that physically injures the child

Ga. Code § 16-6-5 Enticing a child for indecent purposes

  • Punishable by imprisonment for not less than 10 nor more than 30 years
  • Misdemeanor if victim is at least 14 but less than 16 years of age and the perpetrator is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than four years older than the victim

Ga. Code § 16-6-22 Incest

  • Punishable by imprisonment for not less than 10 nor more than 30 years; however, if victim is a child under the age of 14, punishable by imprisonment for not less than 25 years nor more than 50 years.

Ga. Code § 16-6-22.1 Sexual battery

  • Punishable for first offense as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature
  • Felony if victim is under 16; punishable by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years
  • Felony if perpetrator has previously been convicted of sexual battery; punishable by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years

Ga. Code § 16-6-22.2 Aggravated sexual battery

  • Punishable by imprisonment for life or by a split sentence that is a term of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and not exceeding life imprisonment, followed by probation for life

Ga. Code. § 16-5-46 Trafficking a person for labor or sexual servitude

  • If victim is under 18 years of age and victim was coerced or deceived into being trafficked, then felony with imprisonment not less than 25 nor more than 50 years or life imprisonment
  • Otherwise, felony with imprisonment not less than ten nor more than 20 years

 

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Ga. Code § 17-3-1 Limitation on prosecutions

  • (a) For crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment, within seven years after the commission of the crime
  • (b) For the crime of forcible rape, within 15 years after commission of the crime
  • (c) For all other felonies, within four years after commission of the crime
  • (d) For felonies committed against victims who are under 18 at the time the offense is committed, within seven years after commission of the crime
  • (e) For misdemeanors, within two years after commission of the crime

    (But see § 17-3-2.1 below if victim is under 16.) 

Ga. Code § 17-3-2.1 Limitation on prosecution of certain offenses involving a victim under 16 years of age

  • If the victim is under 16 on the date of commission of the offense, the applicable period within which a prosecution must be commenced according to § 17-3-1 shall not begin to run until the victim has reached the age of 16 or the violation is reported to a law enforcement agency or prosecuting attorney, whichever occurs first; applies to any of the following offenses occurring on or after July 1, 1992 but before June 30, 2012:
    • Rape (§ 16-6-1)
    • Sodomy and aggravated sodomy (§ 16-6-2)
    • Statutory rape (§ 16-6-3)
    • Child molestation and aggravated child molestation (§ 16-6-4)
    • Enticing a child for indecent purposes (§ 16-6-5)
    • Incest (§ 16-6-22)
  • If the victim is under 16 on the date of the commission of the offense,  a prosecution may be commenced at any time for the following offenses occurring on or after July 1, 2012:
    • Trafficking a person for sexual servitude (§ 16-5-46)
    • Rape (§ 16-6-1)
    • Aggravated sodomy (§ 16-6-2) (unless the offender is no more than 18 years old, is no more than four years older than the victim, and the victim is at least 13 years old under (b)(2) or (d)(2))
    • Statutory rape (§ 16-6-3)
    • Child molestation and aggravated child molestation (§ 16-6-4)
    • Enticing a child for indecent purposes (§ 16-6-5) (unless the offender is no more than 18 years old, is no more than four years older than the victim, and the victim is at least 14 years old under (c))

Ga. Code § 17-3-2.2 Statute of limitations

  • When the victim of an offense if 65 or older, the applicable period of limitations will not begin to run until the offense is reported to or discovered by a law enforcement agency, prosecuting attorney, or other governmental agency.  Except in certain limited circumstances, prosecution shall not commence more than 15 years after commission of the crime.

Duke v. State, 681 S.E. 2d 174, 177-78 (Ga. Ct. App. 2009). cert denied

  • Ex post facto clause does not prevent the State from extending statute of limitations for prosecutions not yet time barred when statute was enacted. 

Wiggins v. State, 432 S.E.2d 113, 116 (Ga. Ct. App. 1993)

  • For statute of limitations purposes, the date of a sexual assault need not be proved with preciseness, but only that it occurred during the period of limitation.

 

DNA EXCEPTION

Ga. Code § 17-3-1 Limitation on prosecutions

(d) For the following offenses, no statute of limitations when DNA evidence is used to establish the identity of the accused, provided that a sufficient portion of the physical evidence tested for DNA is preserved and available for testing by the accused:

  • Rape (§ 16-6-1)
  • Aggravated sodomy (§ 16-6-2)
  • Aggravated child molestation (§ 16-6-4)
  • Aggravated sexual battery (§ 16-6-22.2)

McKeehan v. State, 616 S.E. 2d 489, 492 (Ga. 2005)

  • A prosecution for rape may be commenced at any time when DNA evidence is used to establish the identity of the accused, but unless and until the DNA is matched to an actual person, it cannot be said that the police know who committed the crime for the purpose of utilizing this statute of limitations workaround.  
 
 
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