Statute of Limitations on Sex Crimes In Georgia

Prosecution for felonies other than murder and crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment 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. O.C.G.A. 17-3-2.1 provides: (a) If the victim of a violation of: (1) Code Section 16-5-70, relating to cruelty to children; (2) Code Section 16-6-1, relating to rape; (3) Code Section 16-6-2, relating to sodomy and aggravated sodomy; (4) Code Section 16-6-3, relating to statutory rape; (5) Code Section 16-6-4, relating to child molestation and aggravated child molestation; (6) Code Section 16-6-5, relating to enticing a child for indecent purposes; or (7) Code Section 16-6-22, relating to incest, is under 16 years of age on the date of the violation, the applicable period within which a prosecution must be commenced under Code Section 17-3-1 or other applicable statute shall not begin to run until the victim has reached the age of 16 or the violation is reported to a law enforcement agency, prosecuting attorney, or other governmental agency, whichever occurs earlier. Such law enforcement agency or other governmental agency shall promptly report such allegation to the appropriate prosecuting attorney. (b) This Code section shall apply to any offense designated in paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection (a) of this Code section occurring on or after July 1, 1992. (Code 1981, 17-3-2.1, enacted by Ga. L. 1992, p. 2973, 1.) O.C.G.A. 17-3-2.1 evinces the legislature's intent that statutes of limitation for certain crimes against minors should be tolled by the infancy of the victim until such time as the victim is 16 years of age. In light of the legislature's decision that the limitation period for certain crimes should vary depending on the age of the victim, we now overrule our decision in Sears v. State to the extent the holding in that case is applicable to those crimes designated in O.C.G.A. 17-3-2.1. As of the date of this opinion, infancy shall toll the statute of limitation for those crimes until the victim is 16 years of age or until the violation is reported to law enforcement authorities, whichever is earlier.