Florida’s Criminal Statutes of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a law that limits the timeframe within which a legal proceeding may be brought. In Florida we have a wide variety of statutes of limitations, some of which apply to civil lawsuits and some which impact criminal actions. This article provides a brief overview of Florida’s key criminal statutes of limitations, however, the law surrounding statutes of limitations can be quite complicated and for case specific information it is important to consult with a local criminal defense attorney.
Florida’s Key Criminal Statutes of Limitations
While a complete list of Florida’s criminal statutes of limitations is contained in section 775.15 of the Florida Statutes, some key limitations are outlined in the chart below:
|Criminal Offense||Time Limit|
|Felonies that result in death||None|
|Capital or life felonies (and perjury related to such a felony)||None|
|Other first degree felonies||Within four years of when the crime was committed|
|Second and third degree felonies||Within three years of when the crime was committed|
|First degree misdemeanors||Within two years of when the crime was committed|
|Second degree misdemeanors||Within one year of when the crime was committed|
In addition to the timeframes outlined above, it is important to note that under Florida law there also are a variety of special statute of limitations provisions that greatly impact the timeframe within which the government can prosecute a suspected criminal. Our state’s special provisions are too numerous to list them all here but some examples include:
- The statute of limitations for felonies that result in injury from a weapon or firearm is 10 years,
- There is no statute of limitations for first or second degree sexual battery felonies that are reported within 72 hours, and
- The statute of limitations for securities violations under Florida law is five years.
What Do These Statutes of Limitations Mean to Me?
The criminal statutes of limitations outlined above are extremely important for anyone who is suspected of having committed a crime in Florida. These statutes are important because they limit the amount of time that the government has to file criminal charges against you. In other words, if the state fails to file a case against you within the permissible timelines provided above then the government will have generally lost its right to prosecute that crime. However, please note that there are some circumstances under which a criminal statute of limitation in Florida can be tolled, or suspended, so it is always advisable to consult with a local criminal defense attorney regarding any case specific questions. For example, criminal statutes of limitations can be tolled in Florida for up to three years if the suspected offender was “continually absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state.”
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Florida, or suspect that you soon may be, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys of the Madonna Law Group today. Our competent and dedicated criminal defense attorneys have years of combined experienced defending clients accused of committing a wide variety of crimes and would be happy to put their skill to work for you. To schedule a confidential initial consultation at our Dade City office call us today at (352) 567-0411.