In Florida, as well as other states, some criminal investigations may be halted or become futile because the statute of limitations has expired. A statute of limitations is a law that puts a limit on the amount of time that is allowed to elapse between the time a crime is committed or discovered and the time that a suspect can be charged with the crime. On the other hand, certain felonies and violent crimes are not subject to a statute of limitations. A suspect can be charged for the latter types of crimes at any time.
This was dramatically illustrated this month when police in St. Petersburg arrested a man in connection with a sexual assault that took place more than three decades ago. According to the Tampa Bay Times’ story, the 1986 crime for which the man was arrested involved the sexual assault of a woman at gunpoint in her own home. Police collected DNA evidence from the crime at the time.
In the ensuing years, the case was reopened twice, most recently in 2015. By then, technology had improved and law enforcement matched DNA from the 1986 crime scene to a sample they had collected from the suspect. Police say they believe the man be linked to other unsolved cases from the late 1980s.
Anytime someone has been contacted by law enforcement regarding their possible connection to a crime – no matter how long ago – their first instinct should be to call an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help determine why law enforcement would be contacting the person and the extent to which he or she is under suspicion. A seasoned lawyer can also offer advice regarding police questioning and put a person in the best possible defense position should charges be filed.