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What Is the Statute of Limitations on Drug Trafficking in Florida?

The principle of a statute of limitations is crucial in criminal law. It sets a time limit for the Government to take legal action against a person accused of committing a crime, including drug trafficking. The statute of limitations on drug trafficking in Florida varies depending on several factors. It is important to understand these limitations if you are facing drug trafficking charges in Florida.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations on Drug Trafficking in Florida

The drug trafficking statute of limitations varies depending on the severity of the crime committed. In Florida, the specific timeframe for filing charges is determined by several factors, such as the quantity and type of drug involved in the crime, and if anyone was harmed or killed due to the offense. Additionally, the classification of the offense as a felony or misdemeanor also affects the statute of limitations.

Here’s a breakdown of the statute of limitations for drug trafficking offenses in Florida:

  • Capital drug trafficking (involving death): No statute of limitations
  • Life felony drug trafficking (serious offenses): No statute of limitations
  • First-degree felony drug trafficking: 4 years
  • Second-degree felony drug trafficking: 3 years
  • Third-degree felony drug trafficking: 2 years
  • Misdemeanor drug trafficking: 1 year

If you are accused of drug trafficking, the Government is given a specific time limit to file charges against you. However, if you are charged with capital drug trafficking or life felony drug trafficking, there is no time limit for the State to file the charges against you.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?

The time limit for drug trafficking charges in Florida begins on the date the crime was committed, not when the crime was discovered or when the accused was identified.

Why Is the Statute of Limitations Important?

The statute of limitations is a crucial legal protection that prevents the prosecution of individuals for crimes committed long ago. Over time, evidence may be lost, deteriorate, or witnesses’ memories may fade, making it challenging to present a fair case. 

The statute of limitations guarantees that individuals are not obligated to defend themselves against stale charges when the evidence and memories are no longer reliable.

What Happens If the Statute of Limitations Expires?

If the government fails to file charges against you within the applicable statute of limitations, the charges will be dismissed. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review your case and determine if the statute of limitations applies.

Tolling of Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations in Florida is tolled, meaning it doesn’t run when a person is continuously absent from the state or doesn’t have a reasonably identifiable residence or place of employment within Florida. 

Federal Drug Trafficking Statute of Limitations

A person can be charged with drug trafficking by both the federal government and the state of Florida. However, the statute of limitations for drug trafficking charges differs between federal and state offenses. In the case of federal drug trafficking offenses, the federal statute of limitations is five years. The federal government must file charges against you within five years of committing the alleged crime. There is no statute of limitations for drug offenses resulting in death or serious bodily injury, or if the defendant fled the jurisdiction.

Understanding the federal statute of limitations for drug trafficking is essential for anyone facing or potentially facing charges related to this crime. If you find yourself in this situation, seeking legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you protect your rights is essential.

Statute of Limitations as a Defense Strategy

There are some situations where the statute of limitations could be used as a defense for people who are accused of drug trafficking. If the government doesn’t file charges within the appropriate statute of limitations, you may be able to get the charges dismissed. This is because the government’s delay in taking legal action could make it difficult for you to defend yourself properly.

Moses & Rooth: Your Florida Drug Trafficking Defense Team

When you’re facing drug trafficking charges, having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side is crucial. At Moses & Rooth, we’re committed to providing efficient and effective legal representation to individuals accused of drug trafficking offenses in Orlando, Florida.

With over 30 years of experience in criminal law, our team of seasoned attorneys brings a unique perspective to drug defense cases. We have worked as prosecutors for years, which gives us an insider’s understanding of Florida drug laws, the prosecution’s strategies, and the available defenses. This deep knowledge allows us to develop a strong defense tailored to your specific case, ensuring your rights are protected, and you receive the most favorable outcome possible.Drug trafficking charges are serious, and you don’t have to face them alone. Contact Moses & Rooth today to schedule your free consultation.

Author Photo

Andrew Moses

Andrew has been practicing criminal law his entire career. After graduating from law school he began working as an Assistant State Attorney prosecuting cases in Orange and Osceola Counties. During his time as an Assistant State Attorney, Andrew handled all types of cases ranging from misdemeanors to such serious felonies as drug trafficking and armed robbery. His experience as a prosecutor helped him gain perspective of the criminal justice system and how the government established its cases.

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