The statute of limitations for criminal cases refers to the time limit within which a person must file their case and commence legal proceedings. If the prosecuting party does not file the case and start proceedings within the specified period of time, they forever lose the right to prosecute that particular case.
Different states have interpretations in this matter. Within each state too, the restrictions differ considerably depending on the crime in question. In general, crimes that are less violent have a shorter statute of limitations whereas crimes that are more violent have a longer time limit. There is no specific time restriction for some crimes.
Florida is one of the states in the US that has set down special provisions for cases in which DNA is used as evidence. In some instances, the statute of limitations may be suspended. A suspended clauses gives the state some more time to initiate legal proceedings.
There is no statute of limitations for capital felony or felony that results in a death. For 1st degree felony, it is 4 years and for any other felony it is 3 years.
The statute of limitations for 1st degree misdemeanor is 2 years and for 2nd degree misdemeanor it is 1 year.
In a case of offense that involves fraud or a breach of fiduciary obligation the proceedings must be initiated within 1 year after the offense was discovered up to a maximum of 3 years under extraordinary circumstances.
In certain sexual crimes against a minor victim under 18 years of age, the statute of limitations commences when victim turns 18 or when the violation is reported, whichever occurs earlier.
There is no specific mention for 1st or 2nd degree sexual battery felony that is reported within 72 hours, in 1st degree sexual battery felony where the victim is under 18 years of age, any sexual battery where the victim is under 16 and in perjury related to a capital felony.
For lewd or lascivious offenses and sexual battery the time limit is within one year after the identity of accused has been established. This is done through DNA testing.
If the defendant is continuously absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place to stay or work within the state, the statute of limitations is suspended for any period of time up to a maximum of 3 years.