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Application of Florida’s Statute of Limitations in Sex Crimes Cases


You’re probably generally aware of how the statute of limitations works in Florida criminal cases. In sum, members of the criminal justice community must file charges against you within a certain amount of time after an alleged offense. If they don’t, you have a defense in court if you’re arrested. For the most part, the exact statute of limitations depends upon the crime you’re accused of committing. The more serious the offense, the longer authorities have to bring charges – typically between one and three years.

However, there’s one area of criminal law in which the operation of the statute of limitations functions somewhat differently: Sex crimes. The key distinction that separates these offenses from others is:

  1. When the clocks starts to run; and,
  2. When it could stop completely.

In either situation, the main issue is that prosecutors have a LONGER period of time to bring charges. Because of the implications for your rights, it’s wise to retain a Florida sex crimes defense lawyer as soon as possible – even before officials arrest you. Still, some background information may be useful.

Florida Sex Offenses with No Statute of Limitations: When the sex crime is a felony that results in death, or is punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment, there is no statute of limitations. Human trafficking is another example of a sex crime with no time restrictions. Police can arrest you and a prosecutor make file official charges at any time in the future.

Sex Crimes with Designated Statutes of Limitations: If the crime is a First Degree Felony, officials must charge you within four years after you’re alleged to have committed it. Aggravated Sexual Battery, familiarly known as rape accompanied by an aggravating circumstance, is an example.

For other felony sex crimes, authorities must file official charges within three years after the alleged offense took place. As such, this statute of limitations would apply to:

  • Second Degree Felonies, including Lewd and Lascivious Conduct in the presence of an elderly or disabled adult; and,
  • Third Degree Sex Felonies, such as incest or exhibition by a minor.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations: When the sex crime involves a minor, the statute of limitations may NOT begin to run on the date of the alleged offense. Instead, the clock starts ticking when the victim reaches the age of majority or when the crime is reported to law enforcement. Therefore, if the victim was 16 years old and police were not notified, authorities have two years until the person turns 18 – PLUS either three or four more years, depending on the crime.

Set Up a Consultation with a Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorney

The statute of limitations is one of the most important aspects of any sex offense case, but it’s not the only strategy for fighting the charges. For more information on your legal options and potential defenses to sex crimes allegations, please contact Fort Lauderdale sex crime attorney Kevin J. Kulik to schedule a confidential consultation at our office. We can advise you on your rights once we have a chance to review your situation.


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