If you have been a victim of a crime, and you are having second doubts about filing a claim against the person who committed the crime, you should know that the law requires that you file a claim within a certain time limit. If you fail to file a claim within the limitations period, the law will consider the case to be barred.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a rule of law that governs the time in which a person can file criminal charges or civil cases against another person. This is an important rule because it protects people from having to defend themselves against lawsuits that are brought against them after years or decades have passed.
California Civil Statute of Limitations Laws
There are two types of statutes of limitations in California – the criminal statute of limitation and the civil statute of limitation. The first type of California statute of limitations is for civil cases. This type of statute of limitations applies to civil cases that are filed in a court of law. These cases include personal injury, property damage, and other types of claims.
Criminal Statute of Limitations in California
The other type of California statute of limitations is for criminal offenses. This type of statute of limitations applies to criminal cases that are filed in a court of law. These cases include murder, manslaughter, and other types of crimes.
- No Limitation – There is no time limit for offenses punishable by death or a life sentence, such as first-degree murder and treason.
- Six-Year Limitation – There’s a six-year limit for offenses such as first-degree robbery, arson, and kidnapping.
- Three-Year Limitation – Cases like theft of a firearm, grand theft, burglary, and assault with a deadly weapon have three-year statutes of limitations.
- One-Year Limitation – Code section 802(a) of the California Penal Codes state that aside from “as provided in subdivision (b), (c), (d), or (e),” if an offense isn’t punishable by death or imprisonment, the statute of limitation would be one year.
Criminal Offenses and Their Statutes of Limitations?
While the most common statutes of limitations are one, three, and six years, there are also some other criminal offenses that have different statutes of limitations.
Below is a quick overview of the statute of limitations criminal for other offenses:
- 10 years – Charges of child pornography or failure to register as a sex offender after being convicted come with 10-year statutes of limitations.
- 5 years – Offenses related to elder abuse or crimes against dependent adults come with 5-year statutes of limitations.
- 4 years – Crimes including, but not limited to theft from an elder, fraud, breach of fiduciary obligation, and public official misconduct come with 4-year statutes of limitations.
- 3 years – Crimes like theft of a firearm, burglary, and assault come with 3-year statutes of limitations.
- 2 years – Sexual misconduct by a therapist or a physician comes with a 2-year statute of limitation.
What Crimes Have No Statute of Limitations in CA?
There are certain crimes that have no statute of limitations in California. This means that even though the crime was committed years or decades ago, the victim can still bring a lawsuit against the perpetrator.
Capital crimes, including murder, manslaughter, and other violent crimes have no statute of limitations in California. A capital crime is defined as a crime that carries a penalty of death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
What is an Exception to the Statute of Limitations?
Tolling refers to the reinstatement of the statute of limitations after it has expired. It is a method used to extend the period of limitations, in the event the victim is incapable of bringing a case within the time limits.
In order to toll the statute of limitations, the following conditions must be met:
- The victim is a minor or below 18 years of age.
- The victim was declared mentally incompetent.
- The victim is in prison.
- The victim is currently in military service.
- The victim is incapacitated or in a coma.
Tolling is not automatic. You can only get the benefit of tolling if you meet the conditions listed above. The court evaluates each case on its own merit, so it’s best to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney if you’ve been charged with a crime. A criminal law expert can help protect your rights and better understand your legal options.
When Does Statute of Limitations Start?
When the victim of a crime becomes aware of the injury and the identity of the person who caused the injury, the statute of limitations starts to run. This is known as the discovery rule. The discovery rule allows the victim to bring a lawsuit even if the crime occurred years or decades ago.
This is particularly beneficial for those who have been a victim of crime during their childhood. The same concept applies to elderly people who are no longer capable of speaking for themselves.
Can I Still Sue After the Statute of Limitations Passes?
Generally speaking, when the statute of limitations has passed, you can no longer sue the person who committed the crime. Unless you are eligible for tolling, you cannot sue someone after the statute of limitations has passed.
When you are a victim of a crime, you should report it to the police as soon as possible. You don’t want to wait too long. Once the statute of limitations expires, you will no longer be able to file a lawsuit. That’s why it’s important to know what your rights are and to take action immediately.
If you have been accused of a crime that has happened years or decades ago, one of the strongest possible defenses that you can use is to claim that the statute of limitations has expired. In order to prove your innocence, you need to hire a professional law group or firm that specializes in criminal law to help you prepare a strong defense and make sure that you don’t get a conviction.