The statute of limitations in a case is extremely important because it essentially determines whether or not a lawsuit can even be filed. While there are some instances in which a lawsuit is filed after a statute of limitations has expired, these are few and far between and they usually only occur in extenuating circumstances. Generally speaking, when a statute of limitations has expired, there is no chance for legal action to be taken.
This can be very important for individuals who are accused of a crime, as time can affect a case in many different ways. For example, eyewitness testimony may be less reliable, as people cannot remember events as clearly when years have passed. In fact, this is a large part of why statutes of limitations exist: to ensure that the integrity of evidence is preserved to some degree.
Perhaps most importantly, if the statute of limitations for your case has expired, you may not have to worry about building a defense at all because no claims can be made against you. It can be difficult to tell for certain if the statute of limitations on a particular case has expired, however, because different criminal offenses have different statutes of limitations, and some crimes have no statute of limitations at all.
The statute of limitations for felonies in Florida is three years, with first-degree felonies extending the statute to four years. Misdemeanors have much lower statutes, but it is highly recommended that you speak with an attorney if you are accused of a crime to gain a better idea of what you can expect with your specific case. If the statute of limitations has not expired, then an attorney can help you build a case in your defense.