Generally, Florida law dictates that crimes must be prosecuted within a certain amount of time. Thus, if the state fails to prosecute a person for an offense within the statute of limitations, it may waive the right to do so. Some offenses can be prosecuted at any time, however, as explained in a recent Florida ruling issued in a sexual battery case. If you are charged with sexual battery or any other sex crime, it is important to understand your rights, and you should meet with a Tampa sex crime defense lawyer promptly.
History of the Case
It is reported that in January 2010, a 15-year-old girl reported to the police that a man with the same name as the defendant gave her alcohol and then raped her. She was transported to a medical facility where a vaginal swab was obtained using a sexual assault kit. Approximately three months later, Florida law enforcement determined that DNA obtained from the vaginal swab belonged to the appellant. He was arrested in March 2019 and charged with sexual battery. He was convicted, after which he moved to vacate his conviction on the grounds that the statute of limitations expired on the sexual battery offense. The court denied his motion, and he appealed.
Statute of Limitations in Sexual Battery Cases
On appeal, the defendant argued that as he was not arrested until over nine years after the commission of the alleged crime, and as felonies other than first-degree crimes must be prosecuted within three years, his prosecution fell outside of the statute of limitations. Therefore, he argued it was untimely. The court disagreed and affirmed the trial court ruling.
In its opinion, the court explained that pursuant to Florida law, the state must prosecute second-degree felonies within three years of the date of the offense. The law extends the statute of limitations for sexual battery, however, stating that it can be prosecuted at any time after the identity of the accused perpetrator is determined via DNA evidence, so long as an adequate portion of such evidence collected during the original investigation and tested for DNA is available for testing by the defendant.
As such, the statute of limitations did not expire in the subject case. Further, the court explained that second-degree felony violations of the sexual battery statute can be prosecuted at any time if the offense is reported within 72 hours of when it occurred. As the alleged battery was reported on the day it happened, the court found that the statute of limitations had not expired. Thus, it affirmed the defendant’s conviction.
Talk to a Skillful Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney
Sexual battery and other sex crimes carry heavy penalties, and it is important for anyone accused of such offenses to mount a compelling defense. If you are charged with a sex offense, it is prudent to talk to an attorney about your options for seeking a good outcome. The skillful Tampa lawyers of Hanlon Law can inform you of your possible defenses and help you pursue the best result available under the facts of your case. You can contact Hanlon Law via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a conference.