Prosecutors have time limits -- called statutes of limitations -- for filing criminal charges against a suspect. These time limits vary by the severity of the crime, and there are no limits for certain violent crimes such as capital murder or kidnapping.
States also have civil statutes of limitations, which similarly limit the time for filing a civil suit. These time limits ensure that evidence is preserved, justice is carried out efficiently, and that (in most cases) you have the threat of criminal charges hanging over your head indefinitely.
Florida's criminal statute of limitations sets restrictions for how long a prosecutor may wait to file formal criminal charges against you. The exact crimes alleged determine the statute of limitations applicable in a particular case. For example, there is no time limit to bring charges for serious crimes such as murder or a felony that results in death. Misdemeanors and lesser felonies, however, have statutes of limitations between one and five years. The following chart provides basic information about the Florida criminal statute of limitations.
See the Florida Criminal Laws section for more information.
Florida Criminal Statute of Limitations at a Glance
||Criminal statute of limitations
||A statute of limitations tells you the time frame when the prosecution must bring a charge for a crime.
||Florida Statutes section 775.15
There is no time limit for the following crimes:
- Felony crimes that result in death
- Capital (death penalty) felonies
- Felonies punishable by life in prison
- Lying under oath during a capital felony case
- Sexual battery, when the victim is under 18 and crime was committed on or after July 1, 2020
- Human trafficking
Generally, cases for other first-degree felonies must be started within 4 years and cases for second-degree felonies must be started within 3 years. But there are some exceptions:
- For a felony involving the use of a destructive device, resulting in injury to a person, the time limit is 10 years.
- For a charge of first- or second-degree felony abuse or neglect of an aged or disabled adult, the time limit is 5 years.
- For a violation of a securities transaction, for Medicaid provider fraud, or for insurance fraud, the time limit is 5 years.
- For a felony violation of Chapter 403 on environmental control, the time limit is 5 years from when the violation is discovered.
- Cases for first-degree misdemeanors must be brought within 2 years.
- Cases for second-degree misdemeanors must be brought within 1 year.
|Crimes in Which a Child Is a Victim
- There is no time limit on cases for sexual battery when the victim is a minor and crime was committed on or after July 1, 2020
|Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run
||The statute of limitations does not run when you are continually absent from the state or have no identifiable place of work or home in the state. This exception cannot extend the time limit for more than 3 years.
- If the time limit has expired for any offense involving fraud or breach of fiduciary obligation, a case can be brought within 1 year of the discovery of the crime. The original time limit cannot be extended for more than 3 years.
- For crimes involving misconduct in public office, a case can be brought within 2 years of the person leaving office or any above limit, whichever is greater.
- If there is DNA evidence for some sex crimes, a case can be brought within 1 year of the discovery of this evidence, regardless of other applicable time limits.
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Florida criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Learn More About Florida Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws from a Lawyer
There are certain time limits for when you can be charged with a crime, which depend on the nature of the crime. Whether you've been charged with a crime or believe charges are coming, it's a good idea to consult with a criminal defense attorney in Florida who can make all the difference in your case.