Is there a Florida criminal statute of limitations?

Yes, there is a statute of limitations for Florida crimes. The state recognizes the injustice of accusing someone of and prosecuting him for a crime that happened years ago. The specific time limit depends on the degree of the crime and not all crimes have a statute of limitation.

If you have an old warrant on your record or if you are facing charges for a crime committed well in the past, call Goldman Wetzel at 727-828-3900. We can determine if the crime exceeds the statute of limitations and then take the necessary steps to get a dismissal.

Why is there a statute of limitation on prosecution?

The purpose of criminal statutes of limitations is to maintain fairness. When plaintiffs or prosecution delay taking action and substantial time passes, defendants are at a disadvantage in collecting evidence to defend themselves.

In Order of Railroad Telegraphers v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., Justice Jackson provided one of the most succinct and powerful explanations about the justification for statutes of limitation:

Statutes of limitation… are designed to promote justice by preventing surprises through the revival of claims that have been allowed to slumber until evidence has been lost, memories have faded, and witnesses have disappeared. The theory is that even if one has a just claim it is unjust not to put the adversary on notice to defend within the period of limitation and that the right to be free of stale claims in time comes to prevail over the right to prosecute them.

What is Florida’s statute of limitations for crimes?

Florida Statute § 775.15 provides the rules regarding the time limits for crimes, and the permitted exceptions. At the beginning the chapter, it makes clear that any crimes that constitute a capital felony, life felony, or felony that resulted in a death have no statute of limitations; the state can commence prosecution for these types of crimes at any time.

For other categories of crimes, the time limit is as follows:

  • Felony of the first degree: four years after its commission
  • Felony of the second or third degree: three years
  • Misdemeanor of the first degree: two years
  • Misdemeanor of the second degree or a noncriminal violation: one year

The above limits are generalities. Some types of felonies, such as Medicaid fraud, workers’ compensation fraud, and abuse and neglect of the elderly, have an extended time limit of five years.

Goldman Wetzel will be able to determine the correct time limit for the specific crime. If you have been accused of or charged with a crime, call us and speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact us at 727-828-3900 to put us on the case.

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