When you hire a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, you will discuss your possible defenses. More common defenses are mistaken identity, false accusations, or self defense in Florida. There are also legal defenses that your Jacksonville attorney may use to defend you case. For instance, you may have grounds for a motion to suppress due to an unlawful search or seizure. There is a defense that is rare in most criminal cases, but that does occur. This is called the statute of limitations. In Florida, the statute of limitations requires a case to be prosecuted within a certain time limit. This law is found in Florida Statute Section 775.15 and states:
(1) A prosecution for a capital felony, a life felony, or a felony that resulted in a death may be commenced at any time. If the death penalty is held to be unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court, all crimes designated as capital felonies shall be considered life felonies for the purposes of this section, and prosecution for such crimes may be commenced at any time.
(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, prosecutions for other offenses are subject to the following periods of limitation:
(a) A prosecution for a felony of the first degree must be commenced within 4 years after it is committed.
(b) A prosecution for any other felony must be commenced within 3 years after it is committed.
(c) A prosecution for a misdemeanor of the first degree must be commenced within 2 years after it is committed.
(d) A prosecution for a misdemeanor of the second degree or a noncriminal violation must be commenced within 1 year after it is committed.
(3) An offense is committed either when every element has occurred or, if a legislative purpose to prohibit a continuing course of conduct plainly appears, at the time when the course of conduct or the defendant’s complicity therein is terminated. Time starts to run on the day after the offense is committed.
(4)(a) Prosecution on a charge on which the defendant has previously been arrested or served with a summons is commenced by the filing of an indictment, information, or other charging document.
(b) A prosecution on a charge on which the defendant has not previously been arrested or served with a summons is commenced when either an indictment or information is filed, provided the capias, summons, or other process issued on such indictment or information is executed without unreasonable delay. In determining what is reasonable, inability to locate the defendant after diligent search or the defendant’s absence from the state shall be considered. The failure to execute process on or extradite a defendant in another state who has been charged by information or indictment with a crime in this state shall not constitute an unreasonable delay.
(c) If, however, an indictment or information has been filed within the time period prescribed in this section and the indictment or information is dismissed or set aside because of a defect in its content or form after the time period has elapsed, the period for commencing prosecution shall be extended 3 months from the time the indictment or information is dismissed or set aside.
(5) The period of limitation does not run during any time when the defendant is continuously absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state. This provision shall not extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than 3 years, but shall not be construed to limit the prosecution of a defendant who has been timely charged by indictment or information or other charging document and who has not been arrested due to his or her absence from this state or has not been extradited for prosecution from another state.
The above-referenced statute is not the complete Florida statute of limitations law. There are certain crimes that are listed that have their own statute of limitations rules. This is only the first part of the law that gives the general rule for the statute of limitations in criminal cases in Florida. If you would like to read the entire law, go to Florida Statute Section 775.15. You should also speak to your Jacksonville criminal lawyer about whether or not this law applies to your case. Depending on the circumstances in your case, your Jacksonville criminal attorney may be able to defend your case based on the statute of limitations.