Florida Statute of Limitations on Criminal Charges, Debt & More

Statute of limitations FloridaThe statute of limitations Florida laws determine how long a prosecuting office, plaintiff, or other party has to take certain legal actions in court. Most statutes of limitations exist for the purpose of encouraging timely complaints that can lead to accurate adjudications while evidence is still readily available. Continue reading to learn about specific statute of limitations for common criminal and civil charges along with other information on the subject. 

Statute of limitations Florida: Everything you need to know

Statute of limitations are laws that limit the amount of time a party has to pursue a legal action in court. Fl statute of limitations exist for many different types of legal claims – both civil and criminal – that we will cover with more detail in the following paragraphs. When considering litigation options, it’s important to seek legal advice from an attorney to understand the time limits that may apply to your case under Florida law. 

What is the statute of limitations in Florida?

In Florida, the applicable statute of limitations will depend on the nature of the claim. In other words, the time limit for filing a personal injury claim from a car accident may be different than the limitations period for a prosecuting office to initiate certain types of criminal charges. 

Additionally, some time limit laws may serve as a Florida statute of repose, which protects a party from liability when a claim is not timely brought by. A statute of repose vs statute of limitations can difficult to discern. The main difference is that statutes of limitations usually have some form of tolling or other equitable relief that will allow a claim to proceed despite being time-barred. 

How long can you wait to sue someone?

The amount of time you can wait to sue someone will always depend on the specific facts of your claim and when significant events occur related to that claim. 

Generally, statute of limitations will begin to run on the date that an accident, crime, or incident that gave rise to a legal claim happened. Alternatively, the statute of limitations could also begin on the date that harm existed or the date that a plaintiff could have reasonably known of the harm. In theory, the date that harm results could occur sometime after the initial incident that caused the harm.  

Furthermore, the statute of limitations for a particular claim may also toll based on other factors, which may extend the time period a party has to file a claim. 

What is the statute of limitations on a felony in Florida?

Florida law does not treat all felonies alike for the purpose of the time frame in which a law enforcement or other public office must commence a prosecution. Florida Statutes Section 775.15(3) explains that a prosecution generally commences with the filing of an indictment, information, summons, or other related process. 

The statute of limitations for a felony charge will depend on if it is a first degree felony or otherwise. First degree felonies must usually start within 4 years after the offense is committed. Other felonies have a lesser time limit that must commence within 3 years after being committed. However, other specific felonies may have a statute of limitations that is more or less than the general time limits described in Florida Statutes Section 775.15(2)(a)&(b).

What is the statute of limitations for theft?

Florida law generally states that the statute of limitation on theft is 5 years after the cause of action accrues. In the case of a criminal charge, however, the state of Florida tolls that time limit (for up to one year) when the defendant is continuously absent from the state. Similar tolling of the statute of limitations for theft also also applies in situations where the defendant does not have a reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work with the state of Florida. 

Statute of limitations on robbery in Florida

The 5-year statute of limitations for theft also applies to the crime of robbery. Although Florida treats cases of armed robbery as a first degree felony. 

Statute of limitations on grand theft in Florida

Florida recognizes the charge of grand theft for a defendant’s taking of property valued greater than $750 as a third degree felony. The charge can rise to a higher degree felony (e.g., second degree felony) depending on the value of the stolen property. The statute of limitations is the same 5 year period as for other theft and robbery charges. 

What is the statute of limitations for debt collection

Florida debt collection laws and statutes of limitations for any legal or equitable claim concerning a contract, obligation, or liability on a written instrument is five years. This means a party has five years to initiate a claim through court. However, an action on a judgment from a court of record in Florida, which could include a judgement related to debt, may commence within 20 years. 

Statue of limitations on medical bills

Florida treats debt from medical bills the same as other types of debt, which means a creditor (e.g., a hospital, health service provider, or contractor) has 5 years to bring a claim to collect on the debt.

What is the statute of limitations for breach of contract 

The Florida statute of limitations for breach of contract is also five years because it is a legal or equitable action on a written contract. Aside from common breach of contract defenses such as impossibility, impracticability, etc., the 5-year statute of limitations may prevent a court from proceeding with an otherwise viable claim. 

Statute of limitations for murder 

Florida does not have a statute of limitations for murder, capital felonies, life felonies, and other felonies that result in death. As a result, law enforcement and prosecutors may commence a criminal charge for murder at any time. 

Florida trespass statute of limitations 

Under Florida statute section 95.11(3)(g), the time period to file a claim for trespass is four years from the date of the trespass. 

Statute of limitations on rape in Florida

The statute of limitations for rape (e.g., sexual battery) in Florida will depend on the context of the charge. Generally, the time limit for a rape charge with a victim who is 18 years of age or older is 4 years for a first degree felony sexual battery and 3 years for a second degree charge if not reported within 72 hours after happening. However, if reported within 72 hours, no statute of limitation exists. 

Sexual battery charges concerning a victim under the age of 18 are not usually subject to a statute of limitations with limited exceptions. For example, if the victim was 16 years or older but the crime wasn’t reported within 72 hours, then prosecution must commence within 8 years after the violation. 

Additionally, Florida law provides that prosecution for a sexual battery may also commence within 1 year after establishing the identity of the accused (or should have been established by the exercise of due diligence). 

Fraud statute of limitations 

The statute of limitations for fraud or fraud in the inducement in Florida is 4 years from the date of the fraudulent action. 

Larceny and grand larceny statute of limitations 

Like theft, a crime of larceny or grand larceny carries the same 5-year statute of limitations. 

Statute of limitations for burglary 

Burglary has a statute of limitation of five years for either a criminal or civil action. 

Statute of limitations on Assault 

The statute of limitations for a felony assault is generally 3 years because it is a third degree felony. However, a misdemeanor assault carries a lesser time period of 2 years. 

What is the statute of limitations on a misdemeanor in florida?

Similar to felonies, the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor in Florida will depend on the level of misdemeanor and if any other statute limits apply to the specific crime. Typically, a first degree misdemeanor has a time frame of 2 years for starting prosecution. A lesser charge of a second degree misdemeanor, in comparison, has a prosecution time limit of 1 year. 

Statute of limitations on crimes not covered above

In addition to the crimes listed above, other unique charges can also carry lengthy statute of limitation periods depending on their nature. For example, Florida legislature has created time periods for bringing the following criminal actions: 

  • 10 years for a felony that resulted in injury to a person and that arose from the use of a “destructive device
  • 5 years for crimes of Medicaid provider fraud
  • 5 years for the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult
  • 5 years for fraud related to a worker’s compensation or insurance claim

How we can help with Florida statute of limitations criminal cases

Understanding how Florida criminal statute of limitations impacts the prosecution or defense of your case can be difficult without the help of a criminal defense attorney. If you have questions about the applicable statute of limitations for a criminal or civil action, please consider scheduling a free consultation with our office. 

Contact Cueto Law Group today concerning Florida criminal statute of limitations.

Final points on Florida crime statutes

Statute of limitations are an important legal concept to be mindful of when considering both criminal and civil legal actions because of their power to prevent a court from hearing an otherwise valid claim. While some statutes of limitation are more straightforward than others, these laws can easily become complex due to issues of tolling and other conditions that may pause or alter the timeliness of an action.

FAQs on statutes of limitations in Florida

Below are some brief answers to other common questions related to the topic of Florida’s statutes of limitation. 

What happens if you can’t pay a lawsuit?

If you can not pay the judgment on a lawsuit then several options may exist to relieve some of that debt burden (e.g., payment plans, bankruptcy, etc.). Additionally, courts may order wage garnishment or the liquidation of certain assets to cover the costs from the lawsuit.

Is there a statute of limitation on medical bills?

Florida does not have a per se statute of limitation on medical bills. However, the collection of medical bills would likely qualify under the 5-year limitation period for a legal action on a obligation on a written instrument, which is how long can a creditor try to collect a debt.

How long can you legally be chased for a debt?

The time frame for the legal collection of a debt will depend on the state but is generally 5 years in Florida. However, you should be careful not confuse this time period with the 20-year time period for an action on a judgment from a court.

Is there a statute of limitations on murder?

Florida does not have a statute of limitations for murder and other comparable felonies. This includes capital felonies, felonies resulting in death, and felonies that carry a life sentence. The reason for the lack of a time limit to commence prosecution is the serious nature of the offense. 

How long does the state have to file charges in Florida?

Law enforcement or other prosecuting public office will generally have the amount of time to file charges in Florida as allowed by its statute of limitations, which varies from crime to crime. Some charges, like murder, have no time limit, while lesser crimes may have a 1-year limit. 

How long after a crime can you be prosecuted?

The amount of time in which prosecution can occur after committing a crime will depend on the nature of the committed crime. Crimes like sexual battery and murder could have a limitless time period for prosecution while others have a more narrow window for bring charges. 

How long can a felony case stay open?

A felony case can potentially stay open indefinitely if related to a serious enough offense such as murder. However, the amount of time a felony case can stay open will generally be 4 years for a first degree charge or 3 years for a second degree charge. 

Does a hearing reset the statute of limitations?

A hearing, depending on the context, will not likely reset the statute of limitations for a legal action. However, a hearing could potentially toll the statute of limitations (i.e., pause it), which would extend the length of time a plaintiff or prosecuting body has to commence an action. 

Cueto Law Group P.L.