Prosecutors have time limits -- called the statute 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 limits the time in which a plaintiff may file a lawsuit or other civil complaint. These time limits ensure that evidence is preserved, justice is carried out efficiently, and that potential defendants (in most cases) don't have the threat of criminal charges hanging over their heads indefinitely.
But keep in mind, the "clock" doesn't run if you are out of state or otherwise evading law enforcement.
Florida's criminal statute of limitations sets restrictions for how long a prosecutor may wait to file formal criminal charges against a defendant. 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 between a one-year and five-year statute of limitations. The following chart provides basic information about of Florida criminal statute of limitations.
See the Florida Criminal Laws section for more information.
Florida Criminal Statute of Limitations at a Glance
Florida Statutes § 775.15
|No Statute of Limitations||
Felony crimes that result in death, death penalty felonies, felonies that are punishable by life in prison, and perjury in an official proceeding associated with the prosecution of a capital felony (death penalty) have no statute of limitations.
|First Degree Misdemeanor||
|Second Degree Misdemeanor||
|Hold on Statute of Limitations||
The statute of limitations does not run during time a defendant is continually absent from the state or has no identifiable place of work or home in the state. This exception cannot extended the statute of limitations period for more than three years.
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.
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