If you have found yourself subject to being sued for an old problem, like failing to pay a credit card debt from years ago, one of the most common and winning defenses is to determine that the jurisdiction’s statute of limitations is past due. Each states’ laws vary but their statues can help reduce or eliminate liability if applicable. Here, criminal defense attorney Rahul Balaramdiscusses how statutes of limitations works and how it can impact a defendant’s legal obligations.

To define a statute of limitations, it is “a law that forbids prosecutors from charging someone with a crime that was committed more than a specified number of years ago”. Once a certain period of time has passed, as defined by the laws in that state, the crime in question can no longer be charged or prosecuted. The legal system in each state can determine a certain length of time for certain crimes in which a case must be filed. If a case is filed after that timeline has passed, then it may be dismissed automatically.

The idea behind these laws is to make sure that convictions are derived from true evidence that has not weakened over time. The purpose of statutes of limitations is to protect the defendants. They are protected as the reasons behind the laws are as follows:

  • The accuser who holds a valid claim for action must pursue the claim with appropriate diligence
  • In the event an old claim is taken to litigation, the defendant may no longer hold the appropriate evidence to disprove the claim or prove their innocence
  • A claim or litigation that lays dormant for too long can cause more harm than bring necessary justice

To summarize, the statute of limitations serves to protect defendants from being sued for something years down the road that may already be resolved or is no longer relevant at that point.

Most often, statutes of limitations apply to civil crimes, as crimes such as murder or assault can be brought to trial at any time. The goal of limiting the period in which certain actions can be brought to trial is to try to ensure a reasonable length of time for resolving an issue.

How Your Legal Obligations Are Impacted

If you are a defendant in a claim that is being brought against you, it is important to understand what your obligations may be. Common claims that have statutes of limitations include personal injury, breach of a written contract, breach of an oral contract, property damage, libel, patent or latent defects, or loss of personal property. Most situations involve calculating a time period from either the date the loss or incident took place or the date in which the issue was discovered.

As each state holds different limitations, it is crucial to find an experienced attorney for your situation to help determine what your liability may be. Having the right attorney in your corner can help understand if you are protected by a statute of limitations, in which you no longer are liable for any of the charges brought against you.

About Rahul Balaram:

Rahul Balaram is an experienced and dedicated attorney that has represented hundreds of clients. Mr. Balaram takes pride in ensuring his clients are aware of every aspect of their case and that their interests are presented with dignity, compassion, and competence.

Rahul opened the Balaram Law Office in Santa Rosa and is widely known for his excellent trial skills, his unrelenting work on behalf of his clients, and the outstanding results that his clients receive. 

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