Statute of Limitations in the State of Florida

Many people assume that statute of limitations is a simple go-to option for legal defense. While it is certainly an option in some cases, it is critical that people understand that it is not cut and dry. In fact, among defense and prosecution alike, it can be a bit of a gray area of law.

Florida law requires that prosecutors handle cases in a timely manner. This law is referred to as the statute of limitations. Essentially, this law was created in order to ensure that the prosecution of the accused is handled quickly and efficiently. The concept is based on the idea that nobody should have to wait for an indefinite period of time to know whether or not they will receive their day in court. However, the statute of limitations in the state of Florida is more complex than one may think.

How it Works

The statute of limitation timeline for prosecutors to begin the process is as follows:

  • 2nd degree felony – must begin within three years of the crime.
  • 3rd degree felony – must begin within three years of the crime.
  • 1st degree misdemeanor – must begin within two years of the crime.
  • 2nd degree misdemeanor – must begin within one year of the crime.

The tricky part comes with what the law means when it states that prosecution should continue the case without unreasonable delay. But, what is unreasonable delay? The law requires that the prosecution makes reasonable efforts to locate and charge the suspected individual. However, this does not mean that they actually have to find the accused. They simply have to prove that they attempted to find them.  An attempt is a broad requirement.

Even if the prosecution makes very little effort to locate the accused, statute of limitations does not apply if the person left the state. Basically, even if the prosecution made absolutely no effort to locate an individual, if they are picked up in a different state by chance, the individual can still be charged with crimes outside of the scope of statute of limitations.

What Does This Mean for Defendants?

The statute of limitations is designed to protect people from being unreasonably prosecuted. However, there are loopholes in the language of the law that allows prosecution to still pursue individuals past the time period outlined.  There are strategies for defense in cases that are unreasonably delayed. However, the term “unreasonably delayed” itself leaves room for interpretation. It is best for individuals who find themselves in similar situations to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable defense attorney to help them navigate the courts. Your rights to a speedy trial should be upheld.

Florida Defense Attorney

If you have questions about the statute of limitations in your case, reach out to a Florida defense attorney who can help you. Scott Skier is located in West Palm Beach, Florida and he is ready to assist you with your defense needs. Understanding the law can be challenging, especially when prosecution makes you feel like you have no options. Attorney Skier is there to help you. Contact him today for your free consultation.

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