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Armed Forces Act 2006

Time limits for offences other than Reserve Forces Act offences
Section 55: Time limit for charging former member of a regular or reserve force

143.Where a person is alleged to have committed a service offence while a member of a regular or reserve force, this section provides that he cannot be charged with the offence more than six months after he ceased to be a member. This is subject to section 61(2), which allows the charge to be brought if the Attorney General consents.

Section 56: Time limit for charging certain members or former members of ex-regular reserve forces

144.Where a person is alleged to have committed a service offence while he was an ex-regular reservist subject to an additional duties commitment under section 25 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996, this section provides that he cannot be charged with the offence more than six months after the end of that commitment. This is subject to section 61(2), which allows the charge to be brought if the Attorney General consents.

Section 57: Time limit for charging person formerly subject to service law

145.Where a person is alleged to have committed a service offence while he was subject to service law, and was not a volunteer reservist or an ex-regular reservist subject to an additional duties commitment, this section provides that he cannot be charged with the offence more than six months after he ceased to be subject to service law. This is subject to section 61(2), which allows the charge to be brought if the Attorney General consents.

Section 58: Time limit for charging civilian formerly subject to service discipline

146.Where a person is alleged to have committed a service offence while he was a civilian subject to service discipline, this section provides that he cannot be charged with the offence more than six months after he ceased to be a civilian subject to service discipline. This is subject to section 61(2), which allows the charge to be brought if the Attorney General consents.

147.There are two exceptions. First, if the person became subject to service law at the same time as ceasing to be a civilian subject to service discipline, the six month period does not begin to run until he ceases to be subject to service law (when section 57 applies instead). Secondly, under Schedule 15 certain civilians are subject to service discipline only while in certain designated areas or while in any area outside the British Islands. If he ceases to be a civilian subject to service discipline only because he left such an area but was still residing or staying in that area, the six month period does not begin to run.

Section 59: Time limit for charging offence under section 107

148.This section sets a time limit for bringing a charge of an offence under section 107 (breach of requirement imposed on release from custody), or adding such a charge in proceedings for another offence. The time limit is six months from the date of the offence or two months from the date of the suspect’s apprehension, whichever is the later.

Section 60: Time limit for charging offence under section 266

149.This section sets a time limit for bringing a charge of an offence under section 266 (failure to comply with a financial statement order). The time limit is two years from the date of the offence or six months from the date it becomes known to the Service Prosecuting Authority, whichever is the earlier.

Section 61: Sections 55 to 60: exceptions and interpretation

150.This section makes general provision in relation to sections 55 to 60. Its effect is mostly explained at paragraph 142 above. Subsection (1) also makes it clear that the time limits imposed by those sections (except section 59) apply only to the commencement of proceedings for the offence, and not to the addition of a charge in proceedings that have already been commenced.

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