Ohio's Two-Year Statute of Limitations

In a misdemeanor case, Ohio's Revised Code 2901.13 provides that a prosecution for a misdemeanor shall be barred unless it commenced (began) within two years of the date that the offense occurred. R.C. 2901.13(A)(1)(b).

In determining the date the prosecution was commenced, the Courts look at the earlier of:

  • The date an indictment is returned or an information is filed;
  • The date a lawful arrest without a warrant is made; or
  • The date the warrant, summons, citation, or other process is issued.

See R.C. 2901.13(B).

"A prosecution is not commenced upon issuance of a warrant, summons, citation, or other process, unless reasonable diligence is exercised to execute the same." State v. King, 103 Ohio App. 3d 210 (1995).

Prosecutor's Burden to Prove the Commencement Date

The prosecutor with the State of Ohio bears the burden of proving that a criminal prosecution commenced within the two-year statute of limitations. Id. at 212.

The First District Court of Appeals has defined "reasonable diligence" as compliance with Crim.R. 4(D). That provision requires that the warrant is actually executed by an arrest or summons. State v. Greer, 2 Ohio App.3d 399, 400, 442 N.E.2d 473 (1981).

For law enforcement officers in Ohio to commence a prosecution, personal service is required when a summons is issued in lieu of arrest. Crim. R. 4(D)(3).

For people other than law enforcement officers, personal or residential service is required when a summons is issued in lieu of arrest. Id.

Speedy Trial Violations on Constitution Grounds

In many of these cases, the defendant will also assert a claim that the prosecution is barred because of a violation of his or her right to a speedy trial on Constitutional grounds.

In State v. Luck, 15 Ohio St.3d 150, 153, 15 Ohio B. 296, 472 N.E.2d 1097(1984) the Court found: "[a]n unjustified delay between the commission of an offense and a defendant's indictment therefore, which results in actual prejudice to the defendant, is a violation of the right to due process of law under Section 16, Article I of the Ohio Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

An unjustified delay in the commencement of a prosecution occurs when the state, "through negligence or error in judgment, effectively ceases the active investigation of a case, but later decides to commence prosecution upon the same evidence that was available to it at the time that its active investigation was ceased." Luck, 15 Ohio St.3d at 158, 472 N.E.2d 1097. The length of delay is a key factor in this determination. Id.

In many of these cases, the criminal defense attorney will also show that the defendant was prejudiced by the State of Ohio's delay in pursuing the prosecution. The prejudice can include:

  1. The dissipation of evidence against the accused;
  2. The disappearance or unavailability of a witness;
  3. The loss of exculpatory evidence due to the delay.

A constitutional violation of speedy trial would require that charges are dismissed. If the prosecutor for the State of Ohio does not begin the prosecution with reasonable diligence, then the defense should move the Court to dismiss the charges as required by Ohio's Revised Code Section 2901.13(A)(1)(b).

Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Speedy Trial in Ohio

Your criminal defense attorney in Columbus, Ohio, can file a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of a Speedy Trial. The motion demands that the Court dismiss the charges pending against the defendant pursuant to R.C. 2901.13, Section 16, Article I of the Ohio Constitution, and the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The First District Court of Appeals has defined "reasonable diligence" as compliance with Crim.R. 4(D), which clearly states that a warrant is executed by an arrest or summons. State v. Greer, 2 Ohio App.3d 399, 400, 442 N.E.2d 473 (1981).

Finding an Attorney for Speedy Trial Cases in Columbus, OH

The criminal defense attorneys at the Joslyn Law Firm understand the importance of the statute of limitations and the right to a speedy trial in criminal misdemeanor cases. We can help you determine if the statute of limitations is applicable, when you should demand a speedy trial, and when you should continue your case for a strategical reason.

Call us to discuss your case. We can begin your defense today.

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