Don’t Miss the Cutoff: Understanding the Statute of Limitations

Many people know there’s a statute of limitations for criminal cases. Whether they’ve heard it mentioned on a prime time law procedural or read about it in regards to the numerous Bill Cosby sexual assault articles, the statute of limitations is often a bone of contention or a needle in the side of a litigate prosecutor. It may come as a surprise, however, that civil law also has its own statute of limitations. Not only do criminal and civil law have their own statute of limitations, but both criminal and civil law statute of limitations can vary from state to state. This is why it is always important to report a crime or speak with a New York personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

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For the purposes of this article, we’ll be using the New York statute of limitations  as an example. Let’s start off with a simple Personal Injury issue – assault. Now, assault is one of those infractions that can be tried in both criminal and civil court, however the statute of limitations varies widely. Someone can be charged with criminal assault up to six years from the date of the alleged assault. On the other hand, a civil case must be filed within one year of an assault. That means someone could be tried under personal injury law for an assault before they ever face criminal charges.

Similarly, while manslaughter cases can be charged up to five years after an incident and murder has no time limitation, a wrongful death suit must be filed within two years of the death. False imprisonment charges must be filed within one year of the incident, while kidnapping charges must be brought within five in some cases. While civil cases may end up in court before a criminal court, it is also possible that a defendant be found liable for an assault, for example, but acquitted of criminal charges because of the difference between the burden of proof in criminal and civil court cases.

One of the most famous cases where an individual was acquitted of criminal charges but found responsible for the wrongful death of two people is the O.J. Simpson case. Nicknamed the “Trial of the Century,” Simpson’s case involved television cameras, a tight glove, a possibly racist cop, a white bronco, and a freeloading house guest. The public was enthralled with the coverage and sensationalism. Many were surprised when the jury came back with a not guilty verdict for the former football player. A civil suit, however, ended with a finding for the plaintiffs, the families of Nicole Brown Simpson, Simpson’s former wife, and Ronald Goldman.

Most personal injury cases have a time limit of three years from the accident. Because of the tight restrictions for bringing a case to trial, it is extremely important to see a New York personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. A trustworthy New York personal injury attorney will most likely offer a free consultation to help you determine whether to move forward with your case and help you understand how the judicial system works.

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