Understanding Statutes of Limitations
Often, victims of a crime that resulted in some form of personal injury will seek to criminally charge the perpetrator. Not everyone does so immediately, though. This delay in reporting a crime and seeking legal action could be for many reasons. For example, victims of domestic or sexual abuse commonly hesitate to press charges out of fear for their safety, and unfortunately, if victims are not aware of the statute of limitations, some perpetrators cannot be legally brought to justice. Being aware of the statute of limitations for the crime you are a victim of can help better prepare you for any legal proceedings.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
Simply put, the statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to initiate legal action. This time period starts when the crime is committed, and the amount of time you have differs greatly case by case. If you wish to pursue legal action, you must start the process within the statute of limitations. Otherwise, your claim can be dismissed.
Why Does It Exist?
Statutes of limitations exist to protect defendants. If enough time goes by, a defendant may not be able to provide essential evidence for their defense. This is especially true when it comes to witness testimony, as memory is less reliable the longer time goes on. Having a statute of limitations on a crime also helps promote a swifter sense of justice since it requires the victim to pursue legal action as soon as possible.
What Are the Different Statutes of Limitations?
The statute of limitations varies based on the type of crime, the severity of the crime, and the jurisdiction. Major felonies such as murder, war crimes, or crimes against humanity typically have no statute of limitations and can be reported at any time. Depending on the jurisdiction, sex crimes involving minors and violent crimes like kidnapping and arson may not have a maximum time, either. Commonly, it’s civil cases that have statutes of limitations. Claims such as personal injury, fraud, and theft all will have maximum periods, generally averaging around a few years.
What Should I Do?
If you’re concerned about the statute of limitations, you should ask a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Oak Creek, WI, like the ones at Hickey & Turim S.C., to guide you through the process. Because the statute of limitations will be very specific to your case, it’s important to have someone who understands all the elements at play. Let an expert help prepare you for legal action.