Statutes of limitations are an important part of our criminal justice system. There are statutes of limitations for both civil and criminal court, though this article solely focuses on criminal statutes of limitations. Criminal statutes of limitations refer to the time that the prosecutor has to file charges after the commission of the crime. If the statute of limitations period has elapsed, then the court can no longer prosecute the case. A statute of limitations defense is one that skilled defense attorneys have in their arsenal to use while representing their clients.
Purpose of Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations exist to protect defendants. There are specific reasons that statutes of limitations exist. First, if someone, whether the government or an individual, has a legitimate cause of action against a person, they should pursue it rather than sleep on their rights. In addition, over time potentially exonerating evidence may be unavailable and witnesses may not be able to remember.
Statutes of Limitations
In Florida, the applicable statute of limitations is based on the classification of the crime. An important note is that the “clock” starts running at the commission of the crime, but the clock is paused any time that the person who committed the crime is either out of state or does not have an ascertainable address or place of employment. Statutes of limitations are not meant to reward people who are successful at hiding, but rather to protect defendants. However, the statute of limitations cannot be extended more than three years from the original period.
There are no statutes of limitations in Florida for any felonies that are eligible for the death penalty, that result in the death of someone, or that are eligible for a sentence of life in prison. There are also no statutes of limitations on prosecutions for perjury in capital cases. First degree felonies in Florida have a four-year statute of limitations. First degree felonies include drug trafficking and certain kinds of robberies. Second and third degree felonies have a three-year statute of limitations.
First degree misdemeanors have a statute of limitations that runs two years after the crime was committed, while second-degree misdemeanors have a statute of limitations of one year. Violations that are not classified as crimes have a statute of limitations period of one year.
There are some exceptions to these general rules, such as first or second degree abuse of a disabled adult, which has a statute of limitations of five years, and several other specific charges.
Contact West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorneys As Soon As Possible
If you are charged with a crime, you should contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can help defend you by using a statute of limitations defense or another applicable defense. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A., in West Palm Beach Florida, will use the best defenses available on your behalf.