Statute Of Limitations For Crimes In Florida
In many situations, an individual suspected of committing a crime will be arrested and then charged a short time after. In other situations, however, law enforcement may let a person go following an arrest without bond or any other conditions. Too many people in this situation may believe that they are no longer under suspicion or that they have been cleared since they were able to go home. However, they do not realize that law enforcement have the opportunity to take extra time to conduct additional investigation to gather sufficient evidence for the prosecutor to file charges. This means that charges may be issued weeks, months, or even years later.
Authorities generally do not have an unlimited time to charge you for a crime, however. This is because Florida law sets out time limits called “statutes of limitations” for criminal cases. The statute of limitations will vary for sex crimes, theft crimes, drug crimes, or any other type of crime depending on the severity of the charge.
The following are some examples of statute of limitations for criminal cases under Florida law:
- Second degree misdemeanors = One year
- First degree misdemeanors = Two years
- Second or third degree felonies = Three years
- First degree felonies = Four years
- Felonies resulting in death, life felonies, or capital felonies = No limit
Once the statute of limitations has run, a prosecutor cannot issue charges stemming from the suspected criminal act.
Statutes Of Limitations Vary From State To State
It is important to realize that every state has different laws for statutes of limitations in criminal matters. For example, several media sources reported that, after many different allegations over the past year, well-known entertainer Bill Cosby was charged with aggravated indecent assault stemming from sexual assault accusations in Pennsylvania. Cosby has not yet faced charges for any of the accusations, largely due to the expiration of the statute of limitations as the alleged assaults took place many years ago. Pennsylvania, however, has a 12 year statute of limitations for sex crimes that are felonies and this particular charge stems from an alleged encounter from January of 2004. If convicted, Cosby faces a potential sentence of two to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. This case demonstrates how time passing does not always negate the possibility of criminal charges.
Consult With A Skilled Boca Raton Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been arrested but not yet charged, you should never assume the matter is simply going to go away until after the statute of limitations has run. Ignoring a possible criminal matter can do more damage in the end and there are many steps an experienced criminal defense lawyer can take to protect your rights before charges are even issued. Following an arrest or learning that you are under investigation for a crime, your first call should be to discuss your situation with a Boca Raton criminal defense attorney who understands Florida criminal laws. Please call the law office of Lavalle, Brown & Ronan at 888-646-1315 to discuss your case today.