Florida Criminal Statute of Limitation

The statute of limitation is a time limitation on the State of Florida’s ability to initiate a criminal prosecution. This limitation sets forth specific time periods within which a criminal prosecution must be initiated. If the state fails to bring a case within the specified time period, it loses its right to prosecute that crime forever. In general, the more serious a crime the longer the statute of limitations. Florida Statute 775.15 sets forth the time limitations, exceptions and tolling provisions for all Florida crimes.

Felony Statute of Limitation

  • Capital felony or life felony: No statute of limitations
  • Any felony resulting in death: No statute of limitations
  • 1st degree felony: 4 years
  • 2nd degree felony: 3 years
  • 3rd degree felony: 3 years

Misdemeanor Statute of Limitation

  • 1st degree misdemeanor: 2 years
  • 2nd degree misdemeanor: 1 year

Special Provisions and Exceptions:

  • Any offense involving fraud or a breach of fiduciary obligation: within 1 year after discovery of the offense, up to a maximum additional 3 years
  • Certain sexual crimes where victim is under 18: statute of limitations begins when victim turns 18 or the violation is reported, whichever occurs earlier.
  • 1st or 2nd degree sexual battery felony reported within 72 hours: no statute of limitations
  • First degree sexual battery felony where the victim is under 18, and any sexual battery where the victim is under 16: no statute of limitations
  • Sexual battery and lewd or lascivious offenses: within 1 year after identity of accused is established through DNA evidence
  • Aggravated battery or any felony battery; kidnapping or false imprisonment; sexual battery; lewd or lascivious offense; burglary offense; robbery offense; carjacking; aggravated child abuse: no statute of limitations if identity of accused is established through DNA evidence
  • Perjury related to a capital felony: no statute of limitations
  • Felony that results in injury from weapon or firearm: 10 years
  • Any offense based on misconduct in office by a public officer or employee: any time while the person is still in public office or employment, or within 2 years from the time person leaves public office or employment, whichever is longer
  • Felony violations (as specified) related to Medicaid provider fraud; exploitation, abuse, or neglect of an elderly or disabled adult; insurance fraud; environmental control violations; securities violations: 5 years

Tolling Provision

The statute of limitations is tolled for any period when the defendant is continuously absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state, up to a maximum of 3 years.

Recent Statute of Limitation Case Law

Norton v. State, 173 So.3d 1124 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015) State failed to conduct a diligent search to locate defendant in order to execute service of capias for violation of the doctor shopping statute so as to excuse its delay in executing capias approximately four years after it was issued, and thus state failed to timely commence prosecution within three year statute of limitations. State concluded its efforts to locate defendant after having searched two public databases and did not attempt to search telephone book, property tax records, voter registration records, probation office records, or utility records, and no one attempted to search an online directory or use a basic internet search engine to ascertain defendant’s whereabouts.  When a criminal defendant challenges his prosecution as being untimely commenced, the state has the burden to prove that the prosecution is not barred by the statute of limitations.

Escalante v. State, 165 So.3d 839 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015) When a criminal defendant challenges his prosecution as untimely commenced, the state has the burden to establish that the prosecution is not barred by the statute of limitations.

The statute of limitation is a time limitation on the State of Florida’s ability to initiate a criminal prosecution. This limitation sets forth specific time periods within which a criminal prosecution must be initiated. If the state fails to bring a case within the specified time period, it loses its right to prosecute that crime forever. In general, the more serious a crime the longer the statute of limitations. Florida Statute 775.15 sets forth the time limitations, exceptions and tolling provisions for all Florida crimes.

Felony Statute of Limitation

  • Capital felony or life felony: No statute of limitations
  • Any felony resulting in death: No statute of limitations
  • 1st degree felony: 4 years
  • 2nd degree felony: 3 years
  • 3rd degree felony: 3 years

Misdemeanor Statute of Limitation

  • 1st degree misdemeanor: 2 years
  • 2nd degree misdemeanor: 1 year

Special Provisions and Exceptions:

  • Any offense involving fraud or a breach of fiduciary obligation: within 1 year after discovery of the offense, up to a maximum additional 3 years
  • Certain sexual crimes where victim is under 18: statute of limitations begins when victim turns 18 or the violation is reported, whichever occurs earlier.
  • 1st or 2nd degree sexual battery felony reported within 72 hours: no statute of limitations
  • First degree sexual battery felony where the victim is under 18, and any sexual battery where the victim is under 16: no statute of limitations
  • Sexual battery and lewd or lascivious offenses: within 1 year after identity of accused is established through DNA evidence
  • Aggravated battery or any felony battery; kidnapping or false imprisonment; sexual battery; lewd or lascivious offense; burglary offense; robbery offense; carjacking; aggravated child abuse: no statute of limitations if identity of accused is established through DNA evidence
  • Perjury related to a capital felony: no statute of limitations
  • Felony that results in injury from weapon or firearm: 10 years
  • Any offense based on misconduct in office by a public officer or employee: any time while the person is still in public office or employment, or within 2 years from the time person leaves public office or employment, whichever is longer
  • Felony violations (as specified) related to Medicaid provider fraud; exploitation, abuse, or neglect of an elderly or disabled adult; insurance fraud; environmental control violations; securities violations: 5 years

Tolling Provision

The statute of limitations is tolled for any period when the defendant is continuously absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state, up to a maximum of 3 years.

Recent Statute of Limitation Case Law

Norton v. State, 173 So.3d 1124 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015) State failed to conduct a diligent search to locate defendant in order to execute service of capias for violation of the doctor shopping statute so as to excuse its delay in executing capias approximately four years after it was issued, and thus state failed to timely commence prosecution within three year statute of limitations. State concluded its efforts to locate defendant after having searched two public databases and did not attempt to search telephone book, property tax records, voter registration records, probation office records, or utility records, and no one attempted to search an online directory or use a basic internet search engine to ascertain defendant’s whereabouts.  When a criminal defendant challenges his prosecution as being untimely commenced, the state has the burden to prove that the prosecution is not barred by the statute of limitations.

Escalante v. State, 165 So.3d 839 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015) When a criminal defendant challenges his prosecution as untimely commenced, the state has the burden to establish that the prosecution is not barred by the statute of limitations.

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