A crime that was committed more than a specific quantified number of years ago may be subject to a statute of limitation which is basically a clock making sure prosecutions don’t move forward in an attempt to prosecute a crime based on physical evidence or eyewitness testimony that may have deteriorated in its reliability over the passage of time.
After the time period of the particular statute has run out, the accused, for all intents and purposes cannot be prosecuted for the alleged crime.
Certain crimes do not have a statute of limitation. A criminal homicide, for example, has none. Some states vary in which crimes are covered by this statute such as various violent crimes, sex offenses involving minors, kidnapping, arson, forgery and other offenses.
Each state’s statute of limitations can be different for particular crimes.
The aforementioned “clock” on a statute of limitation can also be placed on “pause” under varying circumstances.
An interesting fictional example of this was recently televised in an episode of the popular TV show Elementary.
In this episode a story was told about a man facing an assault charge. During the time the statute of limitation for assault applied (five years), he left the country crossing over into Canada for a period of time which was more than 24 hours before returning to the USA on the final day before the statute on this particular crime ran out.
Even though the five year limit to the statue expired, the period of time that the suspect crossed the Canadian border, caused the clock to be placed on hold. Upon his return he was then arrested for the crime, taking the one hiatus into consideration.
This action is called tolling, or stopping the clock while the accused has left the jurisdiction where the crime was committed.
The episode titled: Over a Barrel can be viewed by clicking this link. *There is a small charge to purchase and view the episode via http://amazon.com through the IMDB Website.
A true life example regarding a case that related to this exact issue is written about below:
In late July, 2012, Brian Michael Robinson was charged with promoting sexual conduct by a child, a second-degree felony under Florida law. Nine other counts were charged including possession of a photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation or other presentation of video or images, which included sexual conduct by a child which is all third-degree felonies.
After his arrest on a warrant for possession of child pornography, Robinson’s counsel filed a motion to dismiss, stating that the statute of limitations which was applicable to second and third degree felonies barred the prosecution of these alleged crimes.
Counsel for Robinson maintained that although the original arrest warrant was issued on January 20, 2009 his client was never contacted by police relating to the warrant until June 12, 2012. They went on to argue that Robinson also was not evading arrest and pointed out that the state did not conduct a diligent search to locate their client who was “available” to police, and although he was serving in the armed forces at the time, his address of record was his parent’s home; located within the state and was never “unreachable” to law enforcement.
The prosecution maintained that Robinson was outside of the State of Florida from May 2008 through June 2012 including a nine month period that the defendant was deployed to Afghanistan causing the statute of limitations to be tolled during that four year period.
Prosecutors also argued that they only needed to prove that the defendant had been continuously absent from the state where the charges were filed during the time in question to toll the entire time period.
Once the case was heard in Okaloosa County, Florida, Robinson’s motion to dismiss was denied on grounds that the period of limitation does not run during any time the defendant is continuously absent from the state.
Additionally, three district courts of appeal had previously held this decision valid, citing the relevant time period issue.
After the ruling, late last year, the defendant entered a plea of no contest to all the charges against him and was established to be guilty on all counts.
He was sentenced to more than three and one half years on the primary charge of the Information, followed by five years’ sex offender probation. On the other nine counts he was sentenced to five years’ probation to run consecutively with his period of incarceration.
Counsel for Robinson appealed the case citing that their client had listed his parent’s address as his legal dwelling during the period he was active in the military; but this by itself failed to convince a District Court of any reason to overturn the ruling of the original trial court’s decision.
A summation of this case can be found on the Justia Website.
If you or someone close to you is charged with any crime by the State of Florida it’s crucial to retain a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible time.
The law office of Michael B. Cohen, Esq. is committed to fighting for all clients’ rights who face any charges filed by the State of Florida. As a former Assistant State Attorney for Broward County, Mr. Cohen has a clear advantage for obtaining the best sought after outcome refuting any charges alleged. Working for the prosecution prior to founding his criminal defense practice in the private sector has given him a superior advantage that will result beneficially for those who seek his help.
Mr. Cohen also previously worked as an Assistant United States Attorney for the government handling federal cases for the prosecution.
Nearly twenty years of outstanding private practice criminal defense in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and the Palm Beaches as well as all neighboring counties in the surrounding areas of South Florida inclusive of his forty year career.
Visit his Website at southflalaw.com.