While the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial, it doesn’t guarantee the same for pre-trial proceedings. In Ohio, most criminal proceedings can begin many years after the alleged crime has actually happened.
A statute of limitations is a law that says the government can’t prosecute you for a crime if a certain amount of time has passed since the crime happened. The ability to charge for some minor crimes can, for example, expire after 2 years, while prosecution for more serious crimes can expire after 25 years.
For many states, one exception to these reasons is murder. The reasoning is that taking a life is the most serious crime that demands deep and definitive closure. In this blog, experienced defense attorney Max Hiltner explains what this means for Ohio.
No statute of limitations for murder in Ohio
There are a couple of reasons we have statutes of limitations. It can motivate the police and the prosecution to work on cases relatively quickly so there’s time to take them to court. With time, gathering evidence also becomes much more difficult since materials can degrade or witnesses may forget details.
It is also considered unfair to prosecute someone for most crimes many decades after the fact because evidence that proves their innocence can be lost to time.
In Ohio, however, there is no statute of limitations for murder. This means you may be accused of murder at any time, no matter how many years or decades have passed.
What does the court of Ohio define as murder?
Under Ohio law, a person can only be accused of murder if they are suspected of the following:
- Intentionally causing the death of another (this includes the unlawful termination of a pregnancy).
- Under the Ohio felony murder rule, causing the death of another person while attempting to commit a violent felony, under certain circumstances.
Importantly, lesser charges like manslaughter or assault do have statutes of limitations. If you are being charged with manslaughter, the statute of limitations is 20 years.
The reason for this is that murder, unlike manslaughter, suggests that the perpetrator had the intent to kill the victim. Ohio law views intentional murder as significantly different from other crimes and wants to make sure that it is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
But what are the reasons that there is no statute of limitations for murder?
Why is there no statute of limitations in Ohio?
There are a few reasons why Ohio does not have a statute of limitations for murder:
- People can be found innocent years later: Unfortunately, people are often found guilty of murder even though they were innocent. More time means more chances of freeing an innocent person without fear of ending up with an unresolved case.
- Forensic technology advances over time: New technology allows time to fully resolve cases and take into account new advances in forensic technology.
- Reopened cases: Cases that were previously thought to be solved can be reopened years later when new information comes to light.
If you are being charged with murder in Ohio several years after the crime took place, our criminal defense attorneys at Hiltner Trial Lawyers can examine your case and help you fight your charge.
Contact Hiltner Trial Lawyers today
To put it plainly, a murder charge can come at any point in your life. At Hiltner Trial Lawyers, we’ll use all our experience, resources, and knowledge to make sure you get the best deal possible.
If you are accused of murder or aggravated murder in Ohio, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation. Looking out for your rights is a serious responsibility at Hiltner Trial Lawyers.