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Does the statute of limitations run indefinitely when out of the country?

Orlando, FL |

I have been doing some research into the Florida statute of limitations and have a question.

I am aware that the period of limitation is "paused" for 3 years when the defendant is out of state.

It is stated:

"The period of limitation does not run during any time when the defendant is continuously absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state. This provision shall not extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than 3 years...."

I note that the provision clearly says "....absent from the state".....which could mean in another state, in another country, etc.

Does this provision apply in any circumstance where the individual is absent from the state, regardless of where they are? What about if a warrant has been issued?

I have found that in some cases, the statute of limitations is also stopped once an individual has been arrested? When about if a warrant was issued, but the suspect never arrested due to having left the country BEFORE the warrant was issued? Does the statute of limitations run?

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

In a word, yes. Both absence and a warrant toll (freeze) the SOL.

The Statute of Limitations governs how long the State has to bring a charge based upon the degree of the crime. Florida Statute 775.15 says that a prosecution for a life felony has no SOL and can be commenced at any time, for a 1st degree felony the SOL is 4 years, for any other felony (2nd or 3rd degree) the SOL is 3 years, for a 1st degree misdemeanor its 2 years and for a 2nd degree misdemeanor the SOL is 1 year.

That said, lawful issuance of a warrant tolls (stops / suspends) the SOL (meaning that when a warrant is issued from that moment time, as measured by the SOL, literally stands still).

For more information on the SOL and Speedy Trial rules please see my Avvo Legal Guide on the subject. It contains a great deal of information and should be of assistance to you. For your convenience a link follows:

http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/speedy-trial-and-the-statute-of-limitations-in-florida-courts

I hope this has been helpful and wish you good luck.

First, second and third: No attorney-client relationship exists by virtue of any Q&A with Michael A. Haber, Esq. on Avvo. Fourth: Anything that you post on Avvo (or on similar sites) or on any social media is by its nature public. It is essentially an admission / confession and can be introduced into evidence as a statement against your interest in a subsequent legal proceeding. Once posted you lose any reasonable expectation of privacy, so, as this is an open forum (with no privilege attached), please be extra careful when considering what to post online (forewarned is forearmed.)

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Posted

A warrant causes a toll even if it has not been served?

Posted

Yes, the SOL does not run when a defendant is voluntarily absent from the state. If a warrant has been issued it is the same answer. One client fled to Costa Rica and lived there for many years. When he came back, he was eventually arrested, extradited from MA, and what I remember most was that he had hired a nationally famous lawyer initially for a ton of money, the plea some 8 years later was adjudication withheld, time served, and leave the state.

R. Jason de Groot, Esq. We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I make do not constitute legal advice. Any statements made by me are based upon the limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in Florida.

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