If you have civil or criminal charges brought against you, you may have heard of a statute of limitations. While the phrase might be unfamiliar, this law was created as a defendant’s primary safeguard against unfair prosecution. Understanding your state’s laws surrounding it can be vital to your case, so here is what you need to know about the statute of limitations in Arizona.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a time period set by state or federal law in which criminal charges can be brought forward in a case. Crimes that result in multiple charges can have more than one period set. If any charges are brought after the designated time elapses, a defendant can dismiss them. Statutes of limitations are designed to maintain the integrity of associated evidence and testimony, as well as protect defendants from unfair legal action that arises after a significant passage of time.
Arizona Statute of Limitations Law
Statutes of limitations depend upon the type of claim and the jurisdiction where the incident occurred. In Arizona, these time periods differ for civil and criminal cases.
Civil Statutes of Limitations
A civil case is a dispute between two or more parties, mainly people or businesses, over money or an injury to personal rights. In most cases, statutes of limitations apply to civil cases, and time limits on these cases generally range from one to six years.
Here are a few examples of statutes of limitations in civil cases, categorized by the length of time:
Civil cases with a statute of limitations of one year include libel or slander, wrongful termination, and breach of an employment contract. Injury to personal property and trespassing have a time period of two years.
Fraud carries a statute of limitations of three years, while actions for which no limitation is otherwise prescribed fall under four years.
Those involved in written contracts for debt have six years to file charges.
Criminal Statutes of Limitations
A criminal case involves offenses committed against the state or jurisdiction where the incident occurred. Unlike civil cases, the action taken in these cases was harmful to an entire community or society as a whole. Like most states, Arizona generally has a longer statute of limitations for violent criminal acts. Some crimes, such as murder, manslaughter, violent sexual assault, and terrorism, have no set limitation period in the state, meaning a prosecutor can file a case at any time.
For crimes not explicitly noted in the statute, a general period applies based on how it is categorized.
The general statute of limitations for criminal cases is as follows:
A few examples of specific criminal statutes of limitations under Arizona law include seven years for a hit and run resulting in death, as well as burglary and felony theft. Theft with a value less than $1,000 has a limitation of one year.
Secure Legal Counsel Today
Statutes of limitations can be complicated and even more so if you are faced with one or more charges. Consulting a knowledgeable lawyer in your area is crucial to the success of your case. At Grabb & Durando, our Arizona attorneys are well-versed in criminal defense cases and can help you understand how the statutes of limitations apply to you.