A Jacksonville, Florida man was recently arrested for the crime of murder by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) four years after he allegedly beat the victim, according to an article on News4Jax.com. Apparently, the suspect beat his girlfriend four years ago so badly that she was rendered a quadriplegic and forced to live in a nursing home for the past four years. The victim recently died, and the suspect was rearrested on murder charges.
Cases like this when the death occurs so long after the alleged incident are rare, but they do happen and the state is permitted to charge the suspect with murder years after the original incident occurred. This is because there is no statute of limitations for the crime of murder. In Florida, any capital felony, life felony or felony that results in a death may be charged at any time. There is no deadline. Other less serious crimes are subject to the statute of limitations. For instance, in Florida, a first degree felony that does not involve a death must be commended within four years of the incident. Other felonies must be commenced within three years of the incident date, and first degree misdemeanors must be commenced within two years of the commission of the crime.
The other prevailing issue in a case like this is whether the state can prove causation. In other words, in any murder case, the state has to prove that the victim actually died from the actions of the defendant. When there is a long period of time between the incident and the actual death, the criminal defense lawyer can always argue that the death was caused by something other than the defendant’s conduct, which is why so much time elapsed in between the incident and the death. In order to prove the murder charge, the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim died as a direct result of the defendant’s actions.