Possibly hundreds of prisoners could be released from French jails after a court ruled that a law was incorrectly applied from 2004 to 2012.
France's last court of appeal ruled that the 2004 government decree on the statue of limitations was null and void.
In 2004 the French justice ministry said the ministry, along with sentencing judges, could decide if a convicted criminal could be still imprisoned, even if the normal time limit had expired.
The court ruled that only both houses of parliament could change conditions of the statue of limitations.
The ministry said that since the court's ruling 850 sentences had been reviewed and six people had been released.
Others are likely to be released and will claim compensation for arbitrary imprisonment.