Can I Still Be Prosecuted for a Crime I Committed a Long Time Ago?
The long arm of the law can grab you years or even decades after you’ve committed a crime. But with the exception of the most violent crimes, Florida prosecutors only have a limited amount of time within which to file criminal charges against you.
Statutes of limitations are laws which set forth time periods within which criminal charges must be brought after a crime has been committed. If a statute of limitations has run for a given crime, and prosecutors try to file chargesthereafter, the defendant can move to have those charges dismissed.
Florida Criminal Statutes of Limitations
Florida’s criminal statutes of limitation can be found in Florida Statute 775.15. Limitations periods are generally broken down by degree of felony or misdemeanor, with specific exceptions for certain types of crimes.
For the most serious and violent crimes such as murder, any felony resulting in death, and other capital felonies or life felonies, there is no statute of limitations and charges can be filed at any time. For other felonies, the limitations periods are as follows:
• 1st degree felony: 4 years
• 2nd degree felony: 3 years
• 3rd degree felony: 3 years
1st degree misdemeanors have a 2-year statute of limitations, while prosecutors have one year to bring charges for 2nd degree misdemeanors.
As noted certain crimes have their own specific statutes of limitations (or lack thereof), including:
• For certain sexual crimes where the victim is under 18years-old, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the victim turns 18 or the violation is reported, whichever occurs earlier
• If a 1st or 2nd degree sexual battery felony is reported within 72 hours, there is no statute of limitations
• For a 1st degree sexual battery felony where the victim is under 18, as well as any sexual battery where the victim is under 16, there is no statute of limitations
• Charges for sexual battery and lewd or lascivious offenses can be brought within one year after the identity of the accused is established through DNA evidence
• Similarly, if DNA evidence is used to establish the accused’s identity in cases of aggravated battery or any felony battery; kidnapping or false imprisonment; sexual battery; lewd or lascivious offense; burglary offense; robbery offense; carjacking; aggravated child abuse, there is no statute of limitations
• A prosecution for video voyeurism may be commenced within one year after the date on which the victim of video voyeurism obtains actual knowledge of the existence of such a recording or the date on which the recording is confiscated by a law enforcement agency, whichever occurs first
• Charges based on a felony that results in injury from a weapon or firearm can be brought within 10 years
Though the time period for bringing charges usually starts the day after the crime was committed, Florida law provides for the “tolling” of the limitations period in certain circumstances. This means that the limitations period is essentially put on hold and does not start running until a later date.
In Florida, any otherwise established statute of limitation will be tolled for any period when the defendant is continuously absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state, up to a maximum of three years beyond the applicable limitations period.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer
For over 28 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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