A statute of limitations is a legal statute in that sets forth the maximum period of time, after certain events have occurred, that legal proceedings based on those events may be initiated. Basically, what this means is that after a certain length of time, you may not be able to sue someone in a court of law if the limitation has been exceeded. Also, someone may not be prosecuted for a crime after the period has expired.
In civil law systems, similar provisions are usually part of the state, city or county civil code or the criminal code and are often known collectively as “periods of prescription” or also “prescriptive periods.” Statutes vary from state to state and depend on the particular situation, so check your local laws to determine what applies in the area in which your case resides.
Private detectives, police officers and legal researchers should be familiar with statutes of limitation laws for certain investigation cases. In some situations, it may not make sense to accept a case if the statute of limitations has been exceeded.
More Information, Terms and Definitions
For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.