"Statutes of limitations" are laws that set time limits on how long you have to file a "civil" lawsuit, like a personal injury lawsuit, or how long the state has to prosecute someone for committing a crime. These time limits usually depend on the legal claim or crime involved in the case, and they're different from state to state. For example, in some states you may have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit after you were hurt in car accident, but in other states you may have two years. As a general rule:

  • The time period begins to run on the date your claim arises or "accrues," like the day of the car accident, or when a crime is committed, and
  • Once the statute of limitations has expired or "run," you can't file a lawsuit (or be prosecuted for a crime)

Below are the statutes of limitations in the District of Columbia for various civil claims and crimes. The list doesn't cover everything. Also, the laws may change at anytime, so be sure to check the current laws and read them carefully, or talk to an attorney if you have any questions.

Civil

Note: Most of the civil statutes of limitations are in D.C. Code § 12-301. To see the exact code sections noted below, use the navigation tools on the page provided, or run a search from that page using the statute number. Also, you can scroll through § 301 or run a search from that page to find the statute of limitations for civil claims or "causes of action" not listed below.

Description

Statute

Assault and Battery, 1 year

D.C. Code § 12-301(4)

Contract (in writing), 3 years

D.C. Code § 12-301(7)

Contract (oral or not in writing), 3 years

D.C. Code § 12-301(7)

False Imprisonment, 1 year

D.C. Code § 12-301(4)

Fraud, 3 years

D.C. Code § 12-301(8)

Enforcing Court Judgments, 12 years

D.C. Code § 15-101(4)

Legal Malpractice, 3 years

D.C. Code § 12-301(8)

Libel, 1 year

D.C. Code § 12-301(4)

Medical Malpractice, 3 years

D.C. Code § 12-301(8)

Personal Injury, 3 years

D.C. Code § 12-301(8)

Product Liability, 3 years

D.C. Code § 12-301(8)

Property Damage, 3 years

D.C. Code § 12-301(4)

Slander, 1 year

D.C. Code § 12-301(4)

Trespass, 3 years

D.C. Code § 12-301(3)

Wrongful Death, 3 years

D.C. Code § 12-301(4)

Criminal

Note: Most of the criminal statute of limitations are in D.C. Code § 23-113. To see the exact code sections noted below, use the navigation tools on the page provided, or run a search from that page using the statute number. Also, you can scroll through the criminal laws (found in Division IV, Title 22, Subtitle I of the District of Columbia Code) to find crimes not listed below, and then use § 23-113 to find the statutes of limitations for those crimes.

Description

Statute

Arson, 3 or 6 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(4) or (5)

Assault and Battery, 3 or 6 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(4) or (5)

Burglary, 6 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(4)

Disorderly Conduct, 3 years

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(5)

Kidnapping, 6 years

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(4)

Manslaughter, 6 years

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(4)

Murder, first degree, No time limit

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(1)(A)

Murder, second degree, No time limit

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(1)(A)

Rape, 3, 10 or 15 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(2) or (3) or (5)

Receiving Stolen Property, 3 or 6 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(4) or (5)

Robbery, 6 years

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(4)

Theft, 3 or 6 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

D.C. Code § 23-113(a)(4) or (5)

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