Florida Court Discusses Waiver of Statute of Limitations Argument

Criminal matters typically involve an evaluation of what strategy is most likely to result in a successful outcome, whether it is asserting an affirmative defense, seeking a deal on a lesser charge, or some other plan. In some instances, if a criminal defendant chooses one plan of action, it may preclude him or her from asserting other defenses. For example, the issue of whether a defendant that argues the statute of limitations bars criminal charges is entitled to a jury instruction of a lesser included offense on the same charges was recently addressed by a Florida appellate court, in a case in which the defendant was charged with sexual battery.  If you are faced with charges of sexual battery or any other sex crime, it is critical to meet with an experienced Sarasota sex crime attorney to discuss what plan of action is most appropriate in your case.

Procedural History of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with armed sexual battery. Before the trial, he moved to have the charge dismissed, arguing that it was not filed within the statute of limitations. The court denied the defendant’s motion, and the case proceeded to trial. Following the prosecution’s case in chief, the defendant waived his right to argue the statute of limitations so that the jury could be instructed on the lesser included offense of sexual battery. The State argued that the defendant could not waive the right, and the court agreed, declining to instruct the jury regarding the sexual battery. The defendant was convicted of armed sexual battery, after which he appealed, arguing the court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense.

Right to a Jury Instruction Regarding a Lesser Included Offense

On appeal, the court stated that under Florida law, a criminal defendant cannot have a charge dismissed pursuant to the statute of limitations and then latter waive the statute of limitations argument as to lesser included offenses arising out of the dismissed charge. In other words, if the defendant gets charges dismissed based on the statute of limitations, he or she cannot then waive the statute of limitations as to other crimes arising out of the same criminal transaction.

The court clarified, however, that a defendant was only precluded from waiving the statute of limitations in cases in which one or more charges were actually dismissed due to the statute. In cases where the defendant’s statute of limitations argument failed, such as the subject case, no such preclusion applies. Thus, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury as to the lesser included offense and reversed the defendant’s conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.

Confer with a Capable Sex Crime Attorney

If you live in Sarasota and are presently charged with sexual battery or another sex crime, it is prudent to confer with a capable attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a dedicated Sarasota sex crime attorney, and if you retain his services, he will work diligently to help you seek the best result available under the facts of your case.  Mr. Hanlon can be reached by calling 941-462-1789 or through the online form to set up a confidential and free meeting.

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