A Look at Florida's Criminal Statute of Limitations

by Aaron Delgado
12/20/18 (Updated: 02/08/19)

Florida Statute of Limitations

As part of Florida's criminal laws, prosecutors have time limits for filing criminal charges against a suspect. These criminal time limits are called the statute of limitations, which vary by the severity of the crime. There are no time limits, however, for certain violent crimes.

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 civil 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" does not run if you are out of the 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. In any specific case, the exact crimes alleged determine the applicable statute of limitations. 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, on the other hand, have a statute of limitations between one and five years.

Criminal Florida Statute of Limitations

The following chart provides basic information about Florida's criminal statute of limitations.

Florida Criminal Statute of Limitations at a Glance
Noncriminal Violation
1 year
Second Degree Misdemeanor
1 year
First Degree Misdemeanor
2 years
Other Felonies
3 years
First Degree Felony
4 years

Specific Offenses Under the Statute of Limitations

In addition to the standard criminal charges listed above, the following chart provides information about the statute of limitations for certain specific criminal offenses.

Florida Criminal Statute of Limitations: Specific Offenses
Florida Staute
§ 775.15
Sexual offenses such as battery, assault, and intercourse with someone under the age of 18
Begins running at age 16 or when the violation is reported, whichever is earlier.
Misconduct in public office
Within 2 years of leaving office or any above limit, whichever is greater.
Any offense in which fraud or breach of fiduciary obligation is a material element
3 years
Violation of environmental control
5 years from the date of discovery
Violation of a securities transaction
5 years
First degree felony and second degree felony for abuse or neglect of aged or disabled adult
5 years

No Statute of Limitations

Under certain circumstances there will be no statute of limitations, meaning that criminal charges can be pressed at anytime after the crime has been committed, with no time limit. Crimes that fall into this category include:

  • Felony crimes that result in death
  • Felonies punishable by the death penalty
  • Felonies punishable by life in prison
  • Perjury in an official proceeding associated with the prosecution of a capital felony (death penalty)

Hold on Statute of Limitations

There are certain conditions that will place a hold on the statute of limitations, meaning that the "clock" does not run, including any time when a defendant:

  • Is continually absent from the state
  • Has no identifiable place of work in the state
  • Has no identifiable home in the state

This exception cannot extend the statute of limitatiosn period for more than three years.

Learn More from a Criminal Defense Lawyer

As previously mentioned, there are certain time limits for when you can be charged with a crime, which depend on the nature of the crime and the date it was committed. Whether you've been charged with a crime or believe charges are coming, consulting with a Florida criminal defense attorney can make all the difference in your case.

At Delgado & Romanik, we represent people facing all types of criminal charges, including:

If the criminal defense matter you're concerned with is not listed above, don't worry. Our highly skilled criminal lawyers have experience fighting all types of criminal charges. Call us today at 386-492-8694 to find out how we may be able to help you. Our criminal consultation is always free.

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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