Florida's Statute of Limitations in Criminal Cases
Florida's Statute Section 775.15 provides the general rules governing when the statute of limitations act as a bar to prosecution. Other statutes and case law provide for certain exceptions to the general rules.
For prosecutions in state court, after the defendant raises the issue of the statute of limitations as a bar to prosecution, the State has the burden of showing that the prosecution was commenced in a timely manner after a diligent search for and service of process upon the defendant.
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Statute of Limitations
When does Florida law consider the crime to be "committed" under Florida law?
Florida law provides that a criminal offense is committed either "when every element has occurred or, if a legislative purpose to prohibit a continuing course of conduct plainly appears, at the time when the course of conduct or the defendant's complicity therein is terminated." The statute also provides that the time starts to run on the day AFTER the offense is committed.
When is the prosecution "commenced" under Florida law after an arrest?
Florida law provides that the prosecution on a criminal charge on which the defendant has previously been arrested or served with a summons is "commenced" by the filing of an indictment, information, or other charging document.
When is the prosecution "commenced" under Florida law if no arrest occurs?
Florida law provides that a prosecution on a charge on which the defendant has not previously been arrested or served with a summons is commenced when either an indictment or information is filed, provided the capias, summons, or other process issued on such indictment or information is executed without unreasonable delay. In determining what is reasonable, inability to locate the defendant after diligent search or the defendant's absence from the state shall be considered. The failure to execute process on or extradite a defendant in another state who has been charged by information or indictment with a crime in this state shall not constitute an unreasonable delay.
When does the Statute of Limitation not run in a criminal case?
Florida law provides that the period of limitation does not run during any time when the defendant is continuously absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state. This provision shall not extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than 3 years, but shall not be construed to limit the prosecution of a defendant who has been timely charged by indictment or information or other charging document and who has not been arrested due to his or her absence from this state or has not been extradited for prosecution from another state.
Florida's Statute of Limitations in Misdemeanor Cases
Second (2nd) Degree Misdemeanor - 1 year
First (1st) Degree Misdemeanor - 2 years
Florida's Statute of Limitations in Felony Cases
Third (3rd) Degree Felony - 3 years
Second (2nd) Degree Felony - 3 years
First (1st) Degree Felony - 2 years
Life Felony - No Statute of Limitations is Applicable
Felony that Results in Death - No Statute of LImitations is Applicable
Capital Felony - No Statute of Limitations is Applicable
Other Types of Criminal Offenses and Rules on Florida's Statute of Limitations
Any Theft Offense - Five Years
Any Violation of Probation - No Statute of Limitations is Applicable
Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation of Disabled Adults or the Elderly - Five Years
Filing Motions to Dismiss on Florida's Statute of Limtiations Statute
For more information on how the statute of limitations might be applicable in your criminal case, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, FL, with the Sammis Law Firm. We represent individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses throughout the Tampa Bay area including the courthouses in Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, Clearwater in Pinellas County, Lakeland and Bartow in Polk County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, and Brooksville in Hernando County, FL.