Florida’s Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes
Each state has a “statute of limitations” that applies to criminal offenses. Over time, the Florida legislature has found numerous ways to limit the application of the statute of limitations in criminal cases, particularly for rape and sexually motivated crimes against children.
Depending on the way the crime is charged, it is possible that no statute of limitations applies. For some of the most serious sexually motivated offenses, a prosecution can be commenced at any time.
The list of exceptions is growing. The Florida Legislature recently passed “Donna’s Law” that applies to crimes committed on or after July 1, 2020.
Donna’s Law creates an exception to general time limitations allowing a prosecution to be commenced at any time for specified sexual battery offenses against children.
Attorney on the Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes in Florida
Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for a free and confidential setting to discuss the application of the statute of limitations to an accusation.
We can help you understand the different ways the crime might be charged, which statute of limitations time period might apply, and whether the time period was tolled for any reason.
The four criminal defense attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent clients throughout the greater Tampa Bay area. We are experienced fighting false allegations of rape or sexual battery crimes in the greater Tampa Bay area.
Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL, just a few blocks from the courthouse. Our second office is located in New Port Richey in Pasco County, across from the West Pasco Judicial Center.
Call (813) 250-0500.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes
Florida law provides for several exceptions to the standard rules governing the Statute of Limitations depending on the crime charged and the particular circumstances.
As a general rule, the prosecution for a capital felony, a life felony, or a felony that resulted in a death may be commenced at any time.
In other words, these crimes have no statute of limitations. Several types of sexual battery crimes in Florida fall into this category:
- Sexual battery of a child less than 12 years of age under § 794.011(2)(a) and (b);
- Sexual battery with the use of force or the use or threat to use a deadly weapon under § 794.011(3); and
- Sexual battery of a child less than 12 years of age by a person in familial or custodial authority under § 794.011(8)(c).
Other types of sexual battery offenses that have no statute of limitations because the prosecution can be commenced at any time include:
- A first-degree felony sexual battery committed on a victim under 18 years of age as provided in § 775.15(13)(b);
- A violation of § 794.011(sexual battery) when the victim was under 16 years of age at the time the offense was committed. § 775.15(13)(c);
- A first or second-degree felony sexual battery under § 794.011 which is reported to a law enforcement agency within 72 hours after its commission as provided in §775.15(14); and
- A first or second-degree felony sexual battery under § 794.011 committed upon a victim under the age of 18 which is reported to a law enforcement or other governmental agency within 72 hours after its commission as provided in § 775.15(13)(a).
In addition to sexual battery, the following sex crimes have no statute of limitations because the prosecution can be commenced at any time include:
- The kidnapping of a child under 13 with an accompanying, enumerated offense is a life felony as provided in § 787.01(3)(a); and
- When a person 18 or older who commits a lewd or lascivious molestation against a child under 12 commits a life felony as provided in § 800.04(5)(b).
Florida law provides for an eight-year time limitation on prosecuting a first or second degree felony sexual battery when the victim is 16 years of age or older at the time of the offense provided the offense was not barred from prosecution on or before July 1, 2015, except for:
- A first or second degree felony sexual battery when the victim is 16 years of age or older and reports the crime to law enforcement within 72 hours; or
- A first degree felony sexual battery when the victim is younger than 18 years of age provided the offense was not barred from prosecution on or before October 1, 2003.
Tolling of the Statute of Limitations until the Victim Turns 18
If the victim is under the age of 18 at the time the crime is committed, then the computation of time for the statute of limitations is tolled until the victim turns 18 years old.
Under § 775.15(13)(a), the applicable period of limitation, if any, does not begin to run until either:
- the victim has reached the age of 18; or
- the violation is reported to a law enforcement agency or other governmental agency.
This provision applies to the following types of offenses:
- sexual battery;
- any lewd or lascivious offense under § 800.04; or
- computer-facilitated lewd or lascivious exhibition under § 847.0135(5).
Statute of Limitations for Sexual Battery Crimes in Florida – Learn more about how the statute of limitations in Florida might bar the prosecution of crimes for sexual battery.
This article was last updated on Thursday, August 13, 2020.