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Statutes of Limitations

What is the statute of limitations for your legal rights?


Statute of Limitation

Statute of Limitations and Your Legal Rights

A Statute of Limitation is defined as a statute setting a time limit on legal action(s) in determined legal cases. All systems of law have statutes restricting the time within which legal proceedings may be brought to ensure the prompt prosecution of criminal charges and thereby spare an accused person of the burden of having to defend against stale charges after memories may have faded or evidence is lost. The periods prescribed may vary according to the seriousness of the offense. Certain crimes, such as a capital offense like murder have no statutes of limitation.

Generally, the statute of limitations begins to run as soon as the crime or criminal actions have been completed.

Important reasons to have statute of limitations laws is that over an extended period of time, evidence can be corrupted or disappear, witness memories fade, crime scenes are changed and when it comes to debt, companies dispose of records. Another reason is that people simply do not want to muddle their lives with ancient legal battles from their past.

The best time to file a claim or a lawsuit is while the evidence is as close as possible to the alleged crime or criminal actions. The prosecutor has a responsibility to the county or state to quickly bring about charges so that the legal process can be started. Therefore, limitations of time start when a cause of action has been found or when the plaintiff discovered the crime, rather than at the time of the original event. This distinction is significant in cases in which an earlier event causes a later harm (example: a doctor fails to notify a patient of a disease they may have or doesn't disclose possible cures and the patient then suffers the consequences of that negligence years later).

Sometimes the statutory time limit can be extended in a process called Tolling wherein there are certain circumstances in which a lawsuit or indictment could not be filed or time needs to be extended. All states have their own statutes for tolling and crimes committed. A listing for all 50 states and their revised statute of limitations can be found on the State Statute of Limitations page.

What is Tolling When it Pertains to Statute of Limitation?

Tolling is a legal doctrine which allows for the pausing or delaying of the running of the period of time set by a states statute of limitations. Certain conditions will toll a statute of limitations if:

  • Plaintiff is a minor
  • Defendant is facing a bankruptcy
  • Plaintiff is deemed legally insane
  • Plaintiff is imprisoned with felony convictions
  • Defendant is not physically present in the state
  • The case was in good-faith negotiations to resolve the dispute

Tolling can be limited by a statute of repose, which creates an absolute deadline for filing an action, regardless of reasons for tolling the statute of limitations.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

In order for a debt collector or debt buyer to sue you to collect a debt they have to do that within the time limits that the law requires. This is what is known as the statute of limitations. If they sue you outside of that statute of limitations then that may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Even threatening to sue you beyond the statute of limitations can also be considered a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) violation.

If you are dealing with an unscrupulous debt collector that is threatening you with a lawsuit, whether verbal or written, for an old debt, then you need to look at the statute of limitations if that debt collector has a potential case against you or has potentially violated the FDCP Act.

Simply choose the state statute of limitations and you'll find the answers you need when it comes to the state statutes on how long before debt can no longer be collected on; or when a criminal case can no longer be prosecuted. Information is updated regularly so keep checking back often.

Disclaimer: Statute of Limitation laws in every state get modified, repealed, amended, and/or changed by the legislature of that states jurisdiction. The authors and webmaster of StatuteofLimitation.info have made every effort to post the most current laws. Please use this site as a general reference and for comparison purposes. Do not substitute any information from this site for advice you would get from a qualified legal professional

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