The term “statute of limitations” refers to the length of time that is permitted to pass between the start of a reasonable cause of action and the time that the right of action is exercised. The statute of limitations that is applicable to a given area of law may differ based on the restrictions of the state in which the suit is made and the type of suit being sought. For example, criminal cases have different statutes of limitations, depending on the type of crime that was committed.
It is important to understand the statute of limitations that may apply to any case. Failure to establish a civil or criminal legal action within the statute of limitations will result in the inability to pursue legal action at all.
Within a criminal proceeding, the statute of limitations for a given crime sets the length of time that is permitted to pass before the criminal may no longer be punished for the crimes committed.
Depending on the type of legal action that is being pursued, the start of the statute of limitations may apply at the time of a given event or when injuries or crimes are discovered. In regard to a personal injury suit, the statute of limitations may begin at the moment that the injury occurred or was noticed. For example, some injuries may not present symptoms until several days after an incident has occurred.