The primary purpose of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights is to protect certain freedoms of the people. It is the basis for most laws. When a violation of rights occurs, the victim can use legal means to get justice. However, in most cases bringing a case against the person or persons that broke the law has a time limit. Each state set their time limits to particular offenses, Lawyers in New York like Marc J. Berns & Partners, for instance, will not accept cases where the statute of limitations has run out. The court may and probably will dismiss the case even if there is no doubt of guilt.
The reason for the statute of limitations is to be fair to the defendants in a particular case. They have rights, too, and that includes freedom from fear. It is no joke having a potential court case hanging over one’s head for all time. Unless the unlawful act was atrocious, like a murder, there has to be a time when the defendant can breathe a sigh of relief. The victim in the case has to bring a case against the defendant within a reasonable period.
Civil cases usually mean a defendant failed to fulfill a legal duty to the victim or plaintiff. A good example is a personal injury case, where the defendant caused physical or emotional distress to the plaintiff for doing or not doing something. The defendant can be a person or a company. People filed lawsuits against a few automobile companies for defective safety features in their cars recently. This is a product liability case. In most personal injury cases, the defendant may pay compensation to the plaintiff. In New York, the statute of limitations ranges from one to 10 years, depending on the case. A product liability case has a statute of limitations of three years.
Criminal cases range from infractions, such as unpaid parking tickets, to felonies, such as murder. In many cases, the government brings criminal charges against a defendant on behalf of the victim. In most victimless crimes, the defendant poses a danger to society as a whole, such as drunk driving. The statute of limitations for criminal cases range from one to 5 years, but this may be longer depending on the case. There is no time limit for first degree murder and rape.
People have rights, and someone must pay when they violate these rights. However, defendants also have rights, hence the statute of limitations if you are a victim of an unlawful act, contact a lawyer before the statute of limitations runs out.