According to California state law, certain actions are called “offenses” and are subject to civil or criminal charges. Along with these charges is a term called “statutes of limitations”, simply referred to as the deadline to bring these charges to court.
Generally speaking, more severe offenses like violent crimes have longer statutes of limitations that could extend forever such as in the case of murder which has no statute of limitations. The other way is also true, lighter offenses have shorter statutes of limitation. These statutes can also be extended by “tolling” which gives the Government or the prosecutor more time to work on a case.
It is important to know these statutes because they dictate the time period when you are allowed to sue and file a lawsuit. In most cases, if you try to file a lawsuit against someone when the statute has expired, your case will simply be dismissed.
It is also important to know the nature of the crime since civil cases and criminal cases are often treated differently and have statutes.
Statutes of Limitations for Criminal Cases
Criminal cases are those where the perpetrator is considered to have acted against the state or community. Here is a summary of certain specific laws and criminal statutes listed in California state law:
|Crime||Statute of Limitation|
|Four years after the discovery of the offense or four years after completion of the offense, whichever is later.|
|Until the victim’s 40th birthday|
|No time limits|
Of course, this isn’t the full list of crimes any person may be capable of doing. For specific crimes that are not listed in California state law, the time limit will depend on the maximum punishment set for that crime. In general, this will be:
- For misdemeanors, one year
- For felonies punishable by imprisonment for seven years and less, three years
- For felonies punishable by imprisonment for eight or more years, six years
- For crimes punishable by life imprisonment or death sentence, no time limit
Usually, the timer starts the moment the crime has occurred, or for continuous offenses, when it ends. In situations where the crime was not immediately discovered, such as in instances when the crime was well-hidden or the victim was afraid to come forward, the statute of limitation may be extended to allow for the prosecution to prepare the case.
Another type of offense is “wobbler” offenses. These offenses are not offenses per se, but they can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, it depends on a case-to-case basis.
Criminal law is a very messy portion of the law because a lot of things are not specified and left to be determined in court especially in wobbler offenses. To build a strong defense in criminal court, one must be knowledgeable of both the federal penal code and California penal code.
It is for this reason that you must contact a criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Marc Grossman, an Upland criminal defense law firm and personal injury law firm. As a local law firm, we are knowledgeable of the local laws and can help you come up with the strongest defense for your case.
Statutes of Limitations for Civil Cases
Alternatively, civil cases are those involving individuals or businesses and usually involve personal injury and negligence claims wherein a person or business (the plaintiff) claims to have been harmed by another person or business (the defendant).
A personal injury lawsuit refers to injuries to the body, as opposed to an injury to property. This includes motor vehicle accidents, assault claims, product defect accidents, a slip, and fall, as well as tripping accidents. The defendant can also be sued by the claimant for emotional distress, pain and suffering, economic damages, and medical expenses.
On the other hand, negligence claims refer to harm arising from the carelessness of the negligent party at fault which can include medical malpractice, wrongful death, and wrongful acts.
For civil cases, the applicable statute of limitations in California is two years. This means that plaintiffs must file lawsuits within two years to prevent the dismissal of the injury cases.
If you have been involved in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact an Upland, CA personal injury lawyer. We at the Law Offices of Marc Grossman believe that the only thing a victim in an accident must do is to recover. So let us help you take legal action and file personal injury claims. Get better and let us handle the rest.
Like in the case of criminal cases, there are also exceptions to the limitations period for civil cases that allow for the timer to be tolled. The first is called delayed discovery, where the injured person did not know right away that the incident had caused harm and only found out later on.
Second, minors under 18 years of age and people that do not have the legal capacity to make decisions (as in the case of mental illnesses) at the time of the incident, are similarly exempt. And third, in cases where the defendant caused the injury and left California before a lawsuit can be filed against him.
When to Contact a Lawyer
If you are planning to take civil action on grounds of personal property damage, the best time to contact a lawyer is now. The moment you were injured due to someone’s negligence, the period for which you are allowed to file a claim for an injury lawsuit has already started, so you have to take action as soon as possible.
On top of that, you will have to acquire the evidence too. This includes collecting photographic and video evidence, as well as statements from witnesses to be able to show in court that the opposite party has done you harm. Contact one of our Upland, CA personal injury lawyers to receive help for your injury case today.
If you expect to get involved in a civil or criminal case, contact us at Law Office of Marc Grossman immediately. We will fight for you.