What is a Statute of Limitations?


Many are surprised to learn that their legal claims do not necessarily last forever. It can be disheartening for someone who was fired years ago to be turned away by a law firm, but this can and does happen, even to people with otherwise great cases, if the claim is outside of its Statute of Limitations.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A Statute of Limitations (SoL) is essentially an expiration date for a given legal claim. As with most legal matters, the answer to the question “what is the Statute of Limitations for my case” is almost always “it depends.” The SoL for everything from misdemeanors to felony charges depends entirely on your locality and jurisdiction. With few exceptions, every claim of legal injury will expire after a certain period of time – the universal exception to this is murder claims which, for reasons that should be obvious, never expire regardless of locality or jurisdiction. The most important thing to understand is that if you do not file your claim before the Statute of Limitations is up, your claim will not have any legal value.

What are standards in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area?

As previously noted, the timeframe of the Statute of Limitations depends on the severity of the offense and its jurisdiction. In Virginia misdemeanor offences have an SoL of one year from the incident, in Maryland, depending on the offence, the SoL could be anywhere from 30 days to 3 years and in DC the SoL for a misdemeanor is usually 3 years. In DC if the offense included official misconduct, fraud or breach of fiduciary trust the SoL is a maximum of 9 years for a felony charge and 6 years for a misdemeanor.

For employment discrimination claims there is a federal standard through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. From the EEOC’s website: “A charge must be filed with EEOC within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation, in order to protect the charging party’s rights. This 180-day filing deadline may be extended to 300 days if the charge also is covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law. These time limits do not apply to claims under the Equal Pay Act, because under that Act persons do not have to first file a charge with EEOC in order to have the right to go to court. However, since many EPA claims also raise Title VII sex discrimination.” Be aware that the protections offered by the EEOC are for illegal employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (being 40 or older), disability or genetic information.

The Big Picture

Here’s the key takeaway: if you feel like you may have a claim do not hesitate to reach out to a law firm. The longer you wait to press that claim the closer you will be to your Statute of Limitations. While sifting through state and local laws can be difficult and confusion, rest assured that an attorney in your jurisdiction will have the legal expertise to be able to determine the Statute of Limitations for your claims. If you are in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area and believe you were fired or treated unjustly by your employer, please contact us right away at 202-449-8527 or https://www.spigglelaw.com.