Understanding Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations sets the maximum time from the date an incident occurred that a party has to bring forth legal proceedings for a dispute. These laws are pertinent to both civil and criminal court cases. There is no standard statute of limitations as they can vary by jurisdiction and the offense that took place.
People who support these limitations state that they are necessary since over time evidence can be lost or destroyed and witnesses may have lost their sharp memories of the event. They essentially feel that after a certain period of time has passed it could be unfair to bring certain cases before a court.
Statutes of limitations often vary from one jurisdiction to another and are different depending upon the type of offense at hand. Factors that may go into determining a statute of limitation are the severity of the offense and how much harm was caused as a result of the offense. For some of the most severe crimes, such as murder, there is normally no maximum timeframe for filing a case.
Further, certain international crimes such as war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity often have no statute of limitations. Consumer debt is normally subject to a statute of limitation, meaning that once that timeframe has passed, a creditor cannot seek restitution from a debtor.
If you are thinking of filing a civil claim, an attorney may be able to help you determine whether or not you will be able to file within the statute of limitations. Bear in mind that significant legal work often goes into filing a claim, so your lawyer may tell you your claim would not be ready in time even if at present time you are within the statutory timeframe.
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