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Alabama Statute of Limitations

Statute of Limitations AL – Summary

Alabama’s statute of limitations establishes a deadline before which civil cases – such as lawsuits – must be filed in the state. In relation to criminal charges, it also prevents prosecutors from charging an individual with a crime after a specified period of time has passed. The statutes of limitations for different civil actions and crimes can vary from state to state, so read on for more information about how they apply in Alabama. 

Alabama Civil Statute of Limitations

Alabama’s civil statute of limitations sets deadlines under which lawsuits and other civil actions must be filed in the state. These limits typically range from one – six years, depending on the type of case or procedure, and the date or discovery of an incident is usually when time starts counting down. Most civil actions have a two-year statute of limitations in Alabama, however exceptions including trespassing, rent collection and debt collection have a six-year limitation. 

Be aware that if you fail to file your civil claim before the established deadline, the opposing party can use the statute of limitations in their defense and file a motion to dismiss the case on the basis that the time allotted to file it has already passed. Any legal claim will be lost forever once your case is dismissed. 

A summary of civil statutes of limitations in Alabama:

Code ProvisionsAlabama Code 6-2-1 et. seq: Limitation of Actions, General Provisions and Time Provisions
Injury to PersonUnder a contract: 6 yrs.; In general: 2 yrs.
Libel/Slander2 yrs.
Fraud2 yrs. from accrual of action (discovery)
Injury to Personal PropertyNegligence: 2 yrs; Trespass: 6 yrs.
Professional MalpracticeAlabama Code 6-5-482: Medical Liability: 2 yrs.
Trespass6 yrs.
Collection of Rents6 yrs.
ContractsWritten: 10 yrs. if under seal; 6 yrs. Unwritten/Oral: 6 yrs.
Collection of Debt on AccountStated liquidated account; 6 yrs. Open unliquidated account; 3 yrs.
Judgments20 yrs.

State laws related to filing lawsuits can change often. While our goal is to provide the most current information available, please consider contacting an Alabama attorney or doing legal research of your own to verify the state law(s) you’re researching. 

Alabama Criminal Statute of Limitations

Alabama’s criminal statute of limitations sets time limits on the filing of criminal charges in the state. As it is in most states, Alabama does not place a deadline on bringing charges for crimes considered especially heinous, such as murder, arson, forgery, counterfeiting, drug trafficking crimes, sex offenses involving a victim under 16 years of age, felonies where serious physical injury or death occurred, and felonies committed with the use, attempted use, or threat of violence. The law says prosecutors can charge someone with one of these crimes no matter how much time has passed. 

All other felonies in Alabama have a three-year statute of limitations. The time limit within which criminal charges may be brought begins once the crime is identified, or should have been identified.

All misdemeanors, unless otherwise stated, have a statute of limitations of one year in Alabama. In cases where someone’s property has been temporarily taken or used unlawfully, prosecution must begin within 30 days. Prosecution is considered to have begun once a grand jury hands down an indictment, a warrant has been issued, or if the defendant is either in jail or out on bond/bail before trial.

A summary of criminal statutes of limitations in Alabama:

Code SectionAlabama Code Title 15: Criminal Procedure, Chapter 3: Limitations on Prosecution 
FeloniesMurder, other offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment, arson, forgery, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, sex crimes involving a minor under 16 y/o, felonies resulting in serious injury or death, felonies committed with the use, attempted use, or threat of violence: none; all other felonies in Alabama: 3 yrs.
MisdemeanorsAll misdemeanors: 1 yr. unless otherwise stated; cases of property that has been temporarily taken or used unlawfully: 30 days
Acts During Which Statute Does Not RunIf the initial attempt to indict an individual fails, the time that elapses between a second indictment and the first is counted toward the statute of limitations for the crime in question 

State laws are always subject to change. While our goal is to provide the most current information available, please consider contacting an Alabama attorney or doing legal research of your own to verify the state law(s) you’re researching. 

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