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The Statute of Limitations in Oregon: Felonies & Drug Possession

The Oregon Statute of Limitations Guide

Understanding the statute of limitations in Oregon is key when dealing with cases involving felonies, drug possession, and DUIs. These laws set the time frame for the state to start legal action from when a crime is discovered. The Oregon Revised Statutes outline these deadlines, but there are important exceptions that can change these limits. Additionally, the statute of limitations can affect rights such as gun ownership, highlighting the significance of knowing when these periods begin and the exceptions that apply. 

Oregon Statute of Limitations on Felonies 

Generally, Oregon law sets the following time frames for prosecuting felony offenses: 

1. No Limitation: For the most serious crimes such as murder, manslaughter, and certain sex crimes, there is no statute of limitations. These can be prosecuted at any time, regardless of how much time has passed since the crime occurred. 

2. Six Years: For many other felonies, including robbery, burglary, and most other non-homicidal offenses, the statute of limitations is six years. 

3. Three Years: Some less severe felonies, particularly those not involving violence or serious financial fraud, may have a statute of limitations of three years. 

4. Two Years: There is a two-year limit for most misdemeanors in the state. 

Statute of Limitations for DUI’s 

In Oregon, the statute of limitations for prosecuting a DUI offense is generally two years. This means that legal proceedings must be initiated within two years from the date of the alleged DUI incident. If this period passes without charges being filed, then under state law, the opportunity to prosecute the case expires. 

It's important to understand that this two-year timeframe applies to most misdemeanor DUI charges, which are the most common. However, if a DUI results in felony charges—such as incidents involving serious injury, death, or multiple repeat offenses—the statute of limitations may be extended, reflecting the more severe nature of the crime.

When Does It Start? 

The statute of limitations for a crime, such as a DUI, typically starts at the time the alleged offense occurs. This is known as the date of the incident. From this point, the legal clock begins ticking, counting down the time within which the state must begin formal legal proceedings by filing charges. 

Statute of Limitations and Drug-Related Issues 

In addition to the specifics for felonies and drug possession cases, it's important to note how Oregon handles the statute of limitations for related legal issues. For example, in cases involving the illegal sale of drugs, the statute of limitations may vary based on the type of drug and the quantity involved, which could extend the time prosecutors have to bring charges. Also for crimes that involve ongoing criminal conduct, Oregon may interpret the start of the statute of limitations differently, allowing for a later start date that extends the prosecutorial window. 


There are specific exceptions to the statute of limitations in Oregon that can extend or pause the timeframe for prosecuting crimes. These exceptions are designed to accommodate various circumstances that might otherwise hinder justice. Here's a list of some key exceptions: 

Discovery Rule: This exception applies when a crime is not immediately obvious. The statute of limitations starts when the crime is actually discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. This is most often relevant in cases involving hidden damages or fraud. 

Absence of the Accused: If the accused leaves the state of Oregon, the statute of limitations is paused during their absence. This prevents individuals from avoiding prosecution by moving out of state. The clock resumes once the accused returns to Oregon. 

Serious Crimes Involving Minors: For certain serious offenses like sexual crimes against minors, the statute of limitations can be extended. Charges can be brought many years after the incident, sometimes even after the victim reaches adulthood, to ensure that the complexities and sensitivities of these cases are adequately addressed.

Mental Disability or Incapacity: In cases where the plaintiff is disabled or incapacitated at the time of the injury, the statute of limitations could be extended until the incapacity is removed or resolved. 

How it affects your gun rights

The impact of criminal charges and convictions on gun rights in Oregon can be significant, especially when it comes to felonies and certain misdemeanors like DUIs. Here's how encountering the statute of limitations and the outcome of legal proceedings can affect an individual's right to own or possess firearms: 

1. Felonies: If convicted of a felony in Oregon, an individual is generally prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. This prohibition is due to federal law, which bars felons from firearm ownership, and is enforced regardless of whether the statute of limitations was extended or tolled. If felony charges are not pursued because the statute of limitations expires, then this specific prohibition would not apply. 

2. DUI Convictions: While a misdemeanor DUI typically does not result in a firearm ban, multiple DUI convictions can escalate to felony charges, depending on the circumstances and the number of offenses. If elevated to a felony, this can affect gun rights similarly to other felonies. If a DUI case is dropped or not pursued due to the statute of limitations, the individual's gun rights would remain unaffected by that particular charge. 

3. Impact of Extended Statute Limitations: If the statute of limitations is extended due to exceptions such as the discovery rule or the accused's absence from the state, and if the individual is eventually convicted of a felony, their firearm rights would be affected from the point of conviction onwards. 

The Statute of Limitations in Oregon Conclusion 

Understanding the ORS statute of limitations is important for anyone facing legal issues in Oregon, particularly in cases involving felonies, DUIs, and drug possession. These statutes not only dictate the timeframe within which charges must be filed but also include exceptions that can extend these periods under specific circumstances. The outcome of these cases can significantly impact one’s life, especially concerning gun ownership rights. If you are in the Medford area and need legal assistance, particularly with restoring your gun rights, Oregon Gun Law is equipped with the knowledge and experience to ensure the best possible outcome for your situation.

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