June 23, 2024
Common Types of Statute of Limitations

Common Types of Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations are laws that set forth deadlines for initiating legal proceedings. Although these time limits vary by state, they typically range from one to three years. The most common types of statutes of limitation include the following.

Criminal Offenses

Criminal cases commence when someone commits an illegal actcalled the actus reus. A prosecution cannot begin until authorities discover the crime and have enough evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that prosecutors have a certain amount of time after commissioning a crime before its statute of limitations runs out. In many states, no formal charges are brought within this window. Offenders cannot be prosecuted for their crimes even if new evidence later surfaces.

Personal Injury

When another person harms an individual due to negligence, malpractice, intentional wrongdoing, or some other legal reason, they can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court within a certain amount of time, usually three years. If the plaintiff waits too long to take this step, they will lose their right to sue under the statute of limitations. To ensure that injured parties know how much time they have before filing fees begin to accrue, some states require private notices to be served on all liable persons and their insurance companies.

Property Damage

Like personal injury statutes of limitations, property damage claims also have time limits attached. For example, if someone’s car is vandalized and the victim decides to seek compensation for repairs or replacement, they must file a lawsuit within a certain number of years. If they do not do so by this deadline, there is no recourse even if the guilty party cannot be identified.

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Breach of Contract

Courts usually require that breach-of-contract cases begin within four years of the contract’s breach. Several states have shorter windows as little as two years. Some contracts may also contain clauses specifying certain periods after which their terms will automatically expire. For example, an author may sell a book to a publisher if it does not appear in stores until three months later. The contract is nullified if the book was released outside of that window.

Fraud Cases

Since fraud cases often involve examining financial records and other documentation, they can take months or years to develop fully. Representatives of the misled party must act quickly after learning about the deception. They have three years to file a lawsuit before the MA statute of limitations expires in most states. When this time passes, even if sufficient evidence exists to prove wrongdoing, individuals cannot pursue legal action for damages associated with their losses.

Tax Fraud

The IRS usually initiates tax fraud cases when it discovers irregularities in people’s tax returns. Suppose no charges are brought within three years of the discovery. In that case, however, offenders are presumed innocent under the law. This is because prosecutors cannot produce enough evidence to meet their burden of proof.

Drug Offenses

Drugs cases also begin when an offense is committed. However, they differ from most other statutes of limitations. They can be extended under certain circumstances. For example, suppose someone goes on the run to avoid capture after violating drug laws or leaves behind plenty of money or illegal substances for another person to pick up shortly before they flee. In that case, this could provide authorities with reason to suspect wrongdoing.

Generally, statutes of limitation begin when the alleged crime is committed. This means that once a certain amount of time has passed without any significant new information, it becomes more difficult for authorities to pursue criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator(s) in court. If no action is taken in this period, the case is usually dismissed.