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There is no "time limit" per se, but there is a provision of the Charter that provides that everyone charged with an offence must be tried "within a reasonable time". What is a "reasonable time" depends on the case, but 18 months seems extremely long. If the delay is for reasons attributable to the prosecution (e.g. taking to long to provide the evidence), or delay in obtaining a trial date, then the charges may be stayed (i.e. ceased) as his rights may have been violated. The section I am referring to is 11(b) of the Charter, and a new case- R. v. Jordan- just came out from the Supreme Court which sets out the framework.
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