Statute of Limitations Facts

A statute of limitation is either a state or a federal law. It places a time limit on how long a person has to begin legal proceedings in certain cases. If the statute applies, a case cannot remain open for an indefinite period of time. Once the statute expires, the court cannot punish or try a defendant.

Description of a statute of limitation

Statutes of limitations go all the way back to Roman law, and they have become an important part of U.S. and European law. Both criminal and civil actions are affected by these statutes. Their purpose is to stop stale or fraudulent claims from coming up after witnesses have died or disappeared and evidence has been lost.

Criminal acts

Most states have a statute of limitation for all crimes except murder. The time limit of the statute normally begins on the date the crime was committed, not when it was discovered. Certain states have laws that allow the statute to be suspended for a period of time when the accused is out of state or during the time another indictment for the crime is pending.

Civil acts

The cause of action that a claim will be pursued under is extremely important in determining the statute of limitation that will control the case. Different deadlines are placed on fraud, personal injury, contract or libel claims. It is important that the person and the attorney know which one applies to their particular case.

Sexual offenses and abuse in child abuse cases

The purpose of a statute of limitation is to make sure legal claims are resolved within a reasonable amount of time. In child sexual abuse cases, courts have found it necessary to reconsider time limits. Different states have different rules. Some have removed the statute of limitations on child sex abuse, some on all felonies, and some 'toll' or suspend the running of the statute of limitations until the child reaches adulthood or some point thereafter. If the statute is tolled, the time limit is paused and does not begin to run again until the point specified in the law.

Medical malpractice

Each state differs in their statute of limitation in regards to medical malpractice. The statutes run for a time period of one to five years, depending on the state. Any professional medical negligence that causes an injury to the patient is considered to be medical malpractice.


The statute of limitation sets an expiration date for debt. It prohibits the original creditor and the debt collectors from pursing payment indefinitely. A person should make sure the statute of limitation has not expired before they agree to pay an old debt. The person may not have to pay anything if it has expired.

© 2015 Life123, Inc. All rights reserved. An IAC Company