How Long Can A Felony Charge Be Pending in Florida?

Dwlaw | November 11, 2023

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The journey of a felony charge in Florida is intricate and time-consuming. Understanding the duration a felony charge can remain pending in Florida is crucial, especially for those facing these charges and seeking clarity within the state's legal framework.

In this article, we delve into Florida's Statute of Limitations, unraveling the timelines associated with criminal charges. By examining the wheels of justice in the Sunshine State, we provide essential insights, allowing you to comprehend how long a felony charge can linger in Florida. If you're seeking answers and clarity, read on as we navigate this complex terrain.

What Is The Statute of Limitations in Florida?

The Statute of Limitations in Florida is a crucial legal framework that dictates the maximum allowable time the state attorney’s office can initiate an investigation, make an arrest, and file criminal charges against an individual for a specific offense.

Once this predetermined time frame expires, an individual can no longer be charged  for that particular crime. However, if charges are filed within the specified time-period, the subsequent process of defending a felony charge at  trial in Florida begins. The clock starts ticking from the moment the incident of criminal activity is completed.

Statute of Limitations for Different Felonies in Florida

Florida's statute of limitations are  primarily contingent upon the severity of the felony committed. Here is a breakdown of the general statute of limitations timeframes for various felony classifications:

  • No Statute of Limitations for Capital Felonies: The most severe capital felonies have no statute of limitations. This means the state can pursue charges indefinitely for these heinous offenses.
  • First Degree Felonies – Four Years: First degree felonies fall under a four-year statute of limitations. These felonies encompass many serious offenses and carry significant penalties upon conviction.
  • Less Serious Felonies – Three Years: Certain felonies of lesser severity are subject to a statute of limitations of three years. These offenses typically fall under the second and third-degree felony categories.
  • Exceptions: Notably, exceptions to the statute of limitations exist. For specific crimes, such as theft-related offenses, the statute of limitations can extend to four to six years, depending on the circumstances.

Statute of Limitations for Different Misdemeanor Cases in Florida

In addition to felonies, Florida's Statute of Limitations also applies to misdemeanor cases, with varying timeframes:

  • Second (2nd) Degree Misdemeanor - One Year
  • First (1st) Degree Misdemeanor - Two Years

How Long Can A Felony Charge Be Pending in Florida?

pending felony

There is no specific time limit for how long a felony case will be pending in Florida. The duration largely depends on various factors, including the nature of the crime, evidence availability, and legal proceedings, including the following:

Statute of Limitations

The Statute of Limitations in Florida sets time limits for filing charges. However, for many felony offenses, there's no time limit. For instance, first-degree felonies, like murder, have no Statute of Limitations, meaning charges can be filed at any time after the crime.

Prosecutor's Discretion

Prosecutors typically decide when and if to file charges. They assess the strength of the case, witness availability, and other factors. This discretion can extend the pending period.

Pre-Trial Process

Once charges are filed, the pre-trial process, including investigations, negotiations, and motions, can prolong the case's pending status.

Defendant's Rights

Defendants have the right to a speedy trial, but this doesn't set a specific time limit. Delays can occur due to various legal proceedings, ensuring that the principle of jeopardy is upheld, preventing double prosecution for the same crime.

Legal Representation

An experienced attorney can help expedite or resolve a case, ensuring your rights are protected. If you want to have the best legal representation, click here.

How An Attorney Can Help With Florida's Statute of Limitations Criminal Cases

Navigating Florida's Statute of Limitations in criminal cases can be a complex endeavor, but having a skilled attorney by your side can make all the difference. Here are ways an attorney can assist:

  • Case Evaluation
  • Statute of Limitations Expertise
  • Negotiation
  • Legal Strategy
  • Court Representation
  • Appeals

Ready to literally ErasetheCase? Consult an experienced attorney today and safeguard your rights! Don't let Statute of Limitations criminal cases define your future. Contact us now for expert legal assistance.


How long can a felony case stay open in Florida?

How long is a felony charge has no fixed time limit; it varies based on the case's specific circumstances.

Can a felony charge be dropped in Florida?

Charges can be dropped if prosecutors lack sufficient evidence or if a plea agreement is reached.

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

In Florida, how long the state attorney has to file charges varies, depending on the severity of the crime, as dictated by the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations varies by the type of felony; some have no time limit.

Can you leave the state with a pending felony charge in Florida?

Leaving the state may have legal consequences, such as a warrant for your arrest; consult an expert attorney before making such decisions.

Is jail time mandatory for a felony in Florida?

Jail time varies depending on the type and severity of the felony and other factors. It's determined during sentencing.

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