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Statute of Limitations

St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyers Defending Your Rights

Quite often, we receive calls from clients who have criminal cases pending from years in the past. Sometimes those clients attempted to escape the law and have finally decided to face their criminal charges. Often, these clients have had warrants pending for their arrest. Those warrants can prevent one from obtaining a valid license and can hinder employment opportunities when they show up on background checks. More often than you might think, clients did not even realize that they had criminal charges pending. These clients often discover that they have criminal charges when applying for new jobs. It is not all that unusual for criminal charges to be brought against people unknowingly.

These old cases can cause all sorts of issues for defendants. A committed St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer, however, can often take these old cases and find a way to get them thrown out. In fact, the Florida legislature has put some measures in place to ensure that some old cases are taken care of. One of those mechanisms is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a powerful but limited tool that imposes certain time restrictions on the State of Florida to prosecute defendants within a reasonable amount of time.

How the Statute of Limitations Works

Statutes of limitations exist for both civil and criminal cases. The basic idea behind the statutes is that both criminal or civil actions should be brought within a certain period of time in order to protect the interests of the defendant. A defendant cannot reasonably be expected to to mount an effective defense to any sort of case if a case is brought several years after the facts underlying the case happen. However, the statute of limitations is not as simple as it may seem to the untrained eye. The statutes often require intense legal analysis in order to determine whether they apply to your specific case.

At its basic level, the statute of limitations for criminal offenses states that prosecution for felonies punishable by life or death may be commenced at any time. This means that there is no limitation on the time that the State can take to begin a prosecution against a person accused of such a crime. Often times, victims of such crimes can be either dead or seriously injured. And evidence of such crimes can go unfound or unnoticed for years. This is the reason why “cold cases” can often be reopened decades after the crime without any issues.

A prosecution for a first degree felony must be commenced within 4 years of the time of the offense. Prosecution for a second or third degree felony must be commenced within 3 years of the offense. And prosecution for a misdemeanor must be commenced within 1 or 2 years depending on the type of offense. A failure to commence prosecution within the specified time period will result in the prohibition of the filing of any criminal charges. What exactly qualifies as the “commencement of prosecution” is a bit complicated. A skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer can analyze whether your case can benefit from using the statute of limitations.

The statute defines “commencement of prosecution” as an arrest, the filing of an information, or an indictment. If you are arrested for a charge, then the prosecution against you has been “commenced.” Once an indictment or information is served upon you, the prosecution is commenced. The tricky part comes in when an indictment is filed but you are not served with it. In order for the statute of limitations time period to begin running, the State must make a good faith effort to serve the warrant upon you without reasonable delay.

Speak to Our Lawyers Today

The experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers at Hanlon Law can help you determine whether the statute of limitations applies to your case. Don’t lose the opportunity to get your case dismissed if you qualify. Speak to our lawyers today at 727.289.0222.

Client Reviews
As a practicing attorney, I was shocked to hear that a family member of mine was alleged to have committed a sex crime. Knowing full well the consequences this type of allegation can have on anyone and their future, I immediately reached out to William Hanlon for help. I had every confidence that Mr. Hanlon had the knowledge, expertise, and experience to handle this problem. Approximately 4 weeks from an initial conference with Mr. Hanlon, we received a call with the news that a letter of release was being issued and the case was being dropped. Now my family member can finally exhale, take a deep breath, and go on with his life. Thank you, William! Jerry
Was on the ball. Remembered names, events, places, situations. Never need to re explain the situation. Keeps in touch through out the entire experience and keeps you feeling safe, comforted and protected. Fights hard. Worth every single penny. Would never settle for anything less than Will. Carrie
I was facing a charge that if convicted would carry two years in prison minimally. Not only was he empathetic and listening to what I had to say but he arranged with the prosecutor for my charges not to be filed under terms of a pre trial investigation. Would highly recommend. Alec
I am very happy for what he did for me. Always there when I needed him. Explained everything well. He Fights for his clients. He got me what I needed. Hes an excellent lawyer. Mutaz
Mr. Hanlon did what no other lawyer could do. Not only did he turn my criminal history into a thing of the past so I could move on, he was a loyal associate. No matter how bad the situation is, he has miraculously cleared me on every charge since he became my lawyer 5 years ago. I have the best lawyer that the legal system has to offer. I have had other really good lawyers try to get my business, but I know that no one can do a better job than William Hanlon. Jesse