The Statute of Limitations sets the time period – from a particular act – within which a legal action must be initiated.  If you are a criminal or civil defendant, the SOL can serve to end the case (and eliminate your problem) at its infancy.  If you are looking to bring criminal charges against someone or to sue for civil damages, the SOL may prevent you from doing so if you wait too long.  Generally speaking, most state criminal charges have a SOL of 6 years (murder and certain types of sexual assault have no SOL, while some violent crimes have a SOL of 10 years).  Civil SOL vary too widely to set forth here, but the most commonly utilized are 3 years for personal injury actions, 4 years for consumer protection actions and 6 years for breach of contract. To complicate matters further, the SOL can be “tolled”, or put on pause, for certain periods of time, such as when a criminal defendant flees the jurisdiction or a civil plaintiff has not yet discovered the harmful event. As with most areas of the law, the Statute of Limitations is not as simple as it seems and it is important to consult with an attorney to determine how this issue may affect your case.

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