Criminal Statute of Limitations in Florida

Even though crime is harshly pursued in Florida, the law is also meant to protect defendants from crimes that happened a while ago. When facing criminal charges, many people wonder if Florida has a statute of limitation for criminal cases. 

Florida does have a statute of limitations for criminal charges. This means that some offenses have a time limit for the State to file formal charges against a person. If during this period the case is not prosecuted, the charges will be dismissed. The Statute of Limitations depends on the type of crime. 

In some types of crimes, when a person is facing charges for an offense committed in the past, their case might exceed the statute of limitations in Florida. Knowing this might help you get your charges dropped. Below there is further information about the Florida statute of limitations as well as some of the crimes that have and do not have a statute of limitations. 

Be aware that the statute of limitations in Florida does have some exceptions. 

What Is Statute of Limitations in Florida?

Florida’s law recognizes that pursuing a person for a crime that happened years ago might not be fair. As a result, the statute of limitations is designed to provide people with a just criminal process. 

The statute of limitations sets some time restrictions for the State to file charges against a person. In other words, after a crime is committed, the prosecutor has a certain amount of time to formally press charges against the alleged offender. 

If the time frame has passed and the State did not file the case, they might not be able press charges anymore. This time restriction is meant to avoid unfair punishments that could take place if the evidence, memory of the facts and witnesses are affected by the time lapse.

Nevertheless, the statute of limitations in Florida can be tolled. This means that, under certain circumstances, the time limitations might be suspended or paused. According to the Florida Statutes § 95.051, some circumstances that can ‘toll’ a limitation include:

  • The defendant is out of the state.
  • One of the parties has legal disability before the cause of action is accrued. 
  • The criminal process cannot be served because the alleged offender provided a false name.
  • The alleged victim is a minor that does not have a parent or guardian. If the minor has some disability or his or her parent/guardian has an adverse interest, the limitation will be tolled. 

What Crimes Have No Statute of Limitation in Florida?

As established before, in Florida, not all crimes have a statute of limitation. The Florida Statute § 775.15 indicates that crimes that are classified as a capital felony, life felony, or felonies that resulted in the death of a person do not have a statute of limitation. 

Some examples of these crimes might include capital drug trafficking, murder, armed kidnapping, robbery with a firearm, sexual battery upon a child, etc. The table below  illustrates the Florida statute of limitation in criminal cases:

Type of Felony or MisdemeanorExamplesStatute of Limitation*
First-degree felony– Aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer
Armed robbery
– Manslaughter 
4 years
Second-degree felonyAggravated battery
– Sexual battery or rape
– Possessions of drugs with the intent to sell
3 years
Third-degree felonyGrand-theft 
– Habitual DUI offender
– Forgery
3 years
First-degree misdemeanor– Simple assault
Drug possession
– Indecent exposure
2 years
Second-degree misdemeanorDUI offenses
– Petit theft
– Prostitution 
1 year
  The Statute of Limitations starts after the crime is committed

Understanding your charges and the possible penalties that you might face is an overwhelming experience, especially if your case is about to exceed the statutory limitation. Since there are some exceptions to this law, you might want to enlist the help of a criminal attorney. Contact our criminal lawyers in Florida to find out more information about your case. 

Contact a Criminal Lawyer in St. Petersburg

If you are facing criminal charges and want to know if your offense has a statutory limitation in Florida, call the criminal attorney from Goldman Wetzel. Contact or defense lawyers via secure email form or call us at 727-828-3900 to book a free appointment.