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Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:12 pm
Using Statute of Limitations Defenses in St. Petersburg Criminal Cases
Being charged with a crime can be a scary and overwhelming experience. Many people facing criminal charges wonder if the statute of limitations has expired on their case. The statute of limitations refers to the time period the state has to formally file charges against a defendant after an alleged crime occurs.
In Florida, the statute of limitations varies depending on the type and severity of the crime. Understanding how statute of limitations defenses work in Florida can be helpful for defendants with older charges pending against them. This article will provide an overview of statute of limitations defenses in St. Petersburg criminal cases.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations sets time restrictions on how long the state has to prosecute an individual for a crime after it occurs. The purpose is to ensure cases are brought in a timely manner so that evidence and witness memories are still intact.
If charges are filed after the statute of limitations expires, the case may be dismissed. However, there are exceptions that can extend or toll the statute of limitations period in certain cases.
How the Statute of Limitations Can Be Tolled
Even if the statute of limitations period has expired, there are circumstances that can pause or toll the statute and give the state more time to prosecute. Reasons the statute can be tolled include:
- The defendant was continuously absent from Florida or had an unknown address.
- The defendant avoided prosecution using a false name.
- Legal disabilities prevented the victim from reporting the crime.
- Evidence from DNA testing links the defendant to the crime.
So while the statute of limitations creates time restrictions, exceptions may apply that extend the deadline.
Using Statute of Limitations Defenses in Your Case
If you’re facing older charges, a statute of limitations defense may help get your case dismissed. A criminal defense attorney can analyze the specifics of your case to determine if the statute of limitations has expired.
Key factors they will evaluate include:
- The type and degree of charges filed against you.
- When the alleged crime occurred.
- When formal charges were filed.
- Any circumstances that may have tolled the statute of limitations.
- Whether any exceptions apply that extend the statute of limitations.
If it’s determined the statute of limitations has expired, your attorney can file a motion to dismiss the charges. However, the analysis requires an in-depth understanding of Florida’s complex statute of limitations laws.
An experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney can properly assess if a statute of limitations defense applies in your case. They will know how to argue the motion to convince the judge to dismiss the outdated charges.
Examples of Statute of Limitations Issues in St. Petersburg Cases
To understand how statute of limitations defenses work, it helps to look at some real-world examples of how they have been applied in St. Petersburg criminal cases:
In one case, a defendant was charged with grand theft several years after allegedly stealing items from a St. Petersburg business. At the time, he was living out of state.
His defense attorney argued that the statute of limitations had expired before he was charged. However, since the defendant was living outside Florida, the statute of limitations period was tolled.
As a result, the judge ruled the state still had time to prosecute and denied the motion to dismiss.
A defendant was charged with sale of cocaine that occurred back in 2008. The charges weren’t filed until 2015. The state claimed the statute was tolled because the defendant gave a false name when originally questioned by police.
The defense attorney discovered the defendant’s real name was listed in the police report from 2008. He argued the state failed to prove the defendant actually used a false name to avoid prosecution. The judge agreed and dismissed the charges.
Sexual Battery of a Minor
Charges for sexual battery of a minor have no statute of limitations in Florida. In one case, a defendant was charged in 2016 for crimes that occurred between 1998-2002 against a victim who was under 16.
The defense argued the statute of limitations expired before he was charged. However, due to the nature of the charges and age of the victim, the judge ruled there was no limit to when the state could prosecute.
As you can see, applying statute of limitations defenses requires a thorough review of the case details and Florida law. An experienced criminal defense attorney can make the right arguments before the judge to get outdated charges dismissed.
Consulting a Defense Attorney About Your Statute of Limitations Defense
If you’re facing criminal charges that date back several years, the first step is consulting with a criminal defense attorney. Share details about your case and the lawyer can evaluate if a statute of limitations defense may apply.
Don’t wait and hope the state won’t pursue older charges—be proactive in protecting your rights. An attorney can preserve evidence and witnesses that may be necessary to argue a successful statute of limitations defense.
At the St. Petersburg defense law firm of Montrone Law, we have extensive experience analyzing statute of limitations issues and filing motions to dismiss charges that fall outside the statute. We’ll aggressively argue to protect your rights if the state has exceeded statutory time limits.
Don’t let outdated charges disrupt your life—contact us today to discuss your situation. We offer free case evaluations so you can make informed decisions on how to fight the charges. Take control of your future by asserting your legal rights.