In the twentieth episode of our firm’s video web series, which can be viewed below, firm owner John P. Fishwick, Jr., associate attorney Daniel J. Martin, and firm investigator Isaac Van Patten discuss deadlines in legal cases, formally known as statutes of limitations. In criminal prosecutions, statutes of limitations require the prosecution to charge a defendant within a certain amount of time from the alleged offense; for many federal crimes, this period is 5 years. Similarly, in civil cases, statutes of limitations require the plaintiff to file a lawsuit within a certain amount of time from the cause of action “accruing,” e.g., when the wrong occurred. For example, in a case for defamation in Virginia, a lawsuit must be filed within 1 year of the defamatory statement. In a case for personal injury in Virginia, a lawsuit must be filed within 2 years of the injury occurring. No matter how meritorious a case is, if it is filed after the statute of limitations expires, it will typically be dismissed! As a result, it is important for anyone who thinks they may have a case to seek legal advice sooner rather than later.
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