Time Limits for Different Types of Cases: What You Need to Know
If you’ve been following the news about the Pennsylvania clergy sex abuse cases, you know that time limits are a major issue. The statute of limitations is the formal term representing the last date for bringing charges or filing lawsuits.
Of over 300 priests who may be guilty of sexually abusing children, only a couple can be criminally charged. The reason? Expiration of the statute of limitations. Meanwhile, thousands may also find they can’t bring civil cases against the clergy members that allegedly harmed them. The reason? Expiration of the statute of limitations.
Different time limits exist for both civil and criminal cases. In fact, the federal statute of limitations may apply in some matters. Additionally, expiration dates may vary from state to state. Are there any that remain open-ended? In other words, can you be charged with a crime that occurred many years ago? The short answer is yes.
Time Limits for Federal Crimes
The United States Code are the federal statutes that govern the country as a whole. Title 18 lists most federal crimes, while Title 26 primarily deals with tax code violations. The statute of limitations differs according to the nature of the crime.
What are examples of federal crimes? Some might appear simpler than others. For example, mail fraud might seem pale in comparison to kidnapping a victim and taking them over state lines. Nonetheless, both are federal crimes and come with assigned penalties.
According to the law regarding the federal statute of limitations, charges for the majority of federal crimes must be brought within five years of the alleged offense. That said, these time limits do not apply to capital crimes, which could mean the defendant is eligible for the death penalty.
An assortment of other charges may have extended time limits when it comes to bringing charges. Additionally, the discovery of DNA evidence may also suspend the applicable statute of limitations.
Depending on the circumstances, murder may be a federal capital offense rather than a state charge. Likewise, espionage and terrorism are both federal crimes of a capital nature. There are no limitations when it comes to the government’s timing on bringing a case against an accused for matters that could involve the death penalty.
Time Limits for State Crimes
NJSA 2C:1-6 outlines the particulars when it comes to time limits for criminal prosecution. For many crimes, the statute is similar to the laws on a federal level. That is, a five-year statute of limitations applies with the exception of certain charges. Here are some examples of where the state has up to seven years to bring charges for offenses committed in New Jersey:
- Bribery in official and political matters
- Official misconduct by a public servant
- Speculating or wagering on official action or information
Meanwhile, you should know that the statute of limitations for a few charges is relative to the age of the defendant at the time of the alleged misconduct. Additionally, many lesser offenses have shorter time limitations.
In New Jersey, criminal charges may be brought at any time regardless of the period of time that has passed since the alleged offense. These include murder, manslaughter, sexual assault, and other select actions.
One of the first things a criminal defense attorney will do when preparing your legal defense is determine whether charges were brought within the time constraints allowable by law.
Time Limits for Personal Injury Lawsuits
There are a number of reasons you might find yourself in court for a civil lawsuit. In a prior article, we provided you with information concerning the statute of limitations for slip and fall cases.
Although someone may have advised you that there is a two-year time limit to file personal injury cases, you should seek an attorney sooner than later. In cases involving public entities, there are notice requirements. You want to protect your right to sue without issue.
Meanwhile, New Jersey laws are more lenient than other states when it comes to pursuing monetary damages for sexual abuse matters. More specifically, NJSA 2A:61B-1 states the civil lawsuit “shall accrue at the time of reasonable discovery of the injury and its causal relationship to the act of sexual abuse….and must “be brought within two years after reasonable discovery.”
As you can see, time limits are critical when it comes to different parts of the law. At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we are pleased to assist you with both civil and criminal representation. Contact our office to learn how we can help you.