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Statute of Limitations

The Statute of Limitations sets the maximum time period in which a criminal prosecution can be commenced. If the prosecution is not commenced within the time period, the charges are subject to being dismissed. Florida’s Statute Section 775.15 provides the general rules governing when the statute of limitations act as a bar to prosecution.

Once the defendant raises the defense of the Statute of Limitations as a bar to prosecution, the burden of proof shifts to the Office of the State Attorney. The state must then prove to the court that the prosecution was commenced in a timely manner after a diligent search for and service of process upon the defendant.

Under Florida Law, when is the prosecution “commenced”?

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. If the defendant has not previously been arrested or served with a summons the prosecution 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 (served on the defendant) without unreasonable delay.

When does the Statute of Limitation not run in a criminal case?

In Florida, the Statute of Limitations is tolled (meaning it does not run) during any time that a person is continuously absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable residence or place of employment within Florida.

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 – 4 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

For more information on how the statute of limitations might be applicable in your criminal case, contact David J. Sobel P.A. for a free consultation.