Arkansas Statute of Limitations

A stylized picture of Arkansas with the writing Statute of Limitations on it

Statute of Limitations AR- Summary

Arkansas 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 Arkansas. 

A stylized picture of Arkansas with the writing Statute of Limitations on it

Arkansas Civil Statute of Limitations

Arkansas 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 – three years, depending on the type of case or procedure, and the date or discovery of an incident is usually when time starts counting down. Arkansas puts a three-year limit on most civil claims, including personal injury, injury to property, and libel. Cases of slander fall under a one-year deadline, while written contracts carry a limit of five years, and judgments are allowed a ten-year statute of limitations.

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 Arkansas:

Injury to Person3 yrs. §16-56-104
Libel/SlanderLibel: 3 yrs. §16-56-105 Slander: 1 yr. §§16-56-104
FraudCommon law fraud, fraud and deceit: 3 yrs. §16-56-105
Injury to Personal Property3 yrs. §16-56-105
Professional MalpracticeLegal: 3 yrs. §16-56-105; Medical: 2 yrs. §16-114-203
Trespass3 yrs. §16-56-105
Collection of Rents3 yrs. §16-56-105
ContractsWritten: 5 yrs. §16-56-111; Oral: 3 yrs. §16-56-105
Collection of Debt on Account3 yrs. if not written or under seal §16-56-105
Personal Injury Claims3 yrs. §16-56-105
Property Damage3 yrs. §16-56-105
Wrongful Death3 yrs. §16-56-105
Judgments10 yrs. §16-56-114

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

Arkansas Criminal Statute of Limitations

Arkansas criminal statute of limitations sets time limits on the filing of criminal charges in the state. As it is in most states, Arkansas does not place a deadline on bringing charges for the crime of murder, which prosecutors may charge someone with no matter how much time has passed. 

All misdemeanors carry a one-year statute of limitations in the state of Arkansas, while the limitations placed on felonies can vary more. Class Y and A felonies have a six-year time limit, and Class B, C, and D felonies are given a three-year limit. The time limit does not run when the accused is continually absent from the state.

A summary of criminal statutes of limitations in Arkansas:

Felony Statute of Limitations in the State of Arkansas

What is the Statute of Limitation for Murder?

Murder is one of the most severe felonies and as such has no statute of limitations. In the State of Arkansas capital murder, murder in the first degree or murder in the second degree can all be tried at any time.

What is the Statute of Limitation for Rape?

Rape is one of multiple incidents of sexual misconduct that can also have no statute of limitations in Arkansas. These include Rape of a minor or if there is evidence involved in the case that can lead to a DNA match being found of the person who committed the rape. This second caveat is quite broad and allows prosecutors leeway to prosecute older cases.

What is the Statute of Limitation for Class Y and A Felonies?

These are typically a lower level of severity and as such have a lower length for their respective statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for these classes is 3 years.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Insurance Fraud?

Typically for insurance fraud the time limit is 3 years although this is extended to 5 years when it involves a vehicle. These limits can be extended for 3 and 10 years respectively if the discovery of fraud was not possible at the time the act was committed.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Fraud or Breach of Fiduciary Duty?

Fraud and breach of fiduciary duty in Arkansas have a very low time limit for a criminal case to be brought forward of one year, although this can be extended for up to 3 additional years if it was not discovered during that time.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Felonious Conduct by a Public Servant?

The statute of limitations is effectively 5 years after they leave public office OR 5 years after the crime was discovered. This period can not extend for longer than 10 years total.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Crimes Against Minors?

Arkansas allows for a longer time limit when crimes involve minors. The statutory period won’t begin until the victim turns 18 for crimes involving minors and:
First degree battery, second degree battery, aggravated assault, kidnapping, terroristic threatening, false imprisonment, and permanent detention or restraint.

What Crimes Have no Statute of Limitations in Arkansas?

Capital murder, murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, rape if the victim was a minor at the time of the offence, sexual indecency with a child, sexual assault in the first degree, sexual assault in the second degree (if the victim was a minor at the time), Incest (if the victim was a minor at the time), engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for use in visual or print medium, transportation of minors for sexual conduct, employer or consenting to the use of a child in a sexual performance, computer exploitation of a child in the first degree.

Time Limits for Medical Malpractice in Arkansas

Arkansas has 3 basic principles to understand when looking at the length of time between when a medical malpractice incident happened and when a case must be brought forward.

The General Deadline

Generally speaking, a typical medical malpractice case will have a 2 year deadline. This means that without any extenuating circumstances a lawsuit must be brought forward within 2 years of the incident. This time limit can be extended if there are certain extenuating circumstances such as discovery, having a minor involved, or if the defendant (the doctor) leaves the state. In some cases if you are planning to file a suit you may write your intent to sue and have this deadline extended for up to 90 days.

What is the Discovery Rule?

Arkansas has a very limited discovery rule that only applies if a foreign object is left inside. This allows for an extension of the time limits, but only if the victim had no chance of reasonably learning that they had a case. In incidents where the patient was unaware that they had a foreign object in their body the deadline is extended one year from when it was discovered.

What if a Minor is involved?

Minors have slightly longer times to open medical malpractice suits. For Minors under the age of 9 at the time of the incident you will have until their 11th birthday to sue. If you are not able to reasonably have discovered the incident of medical malpractice you will have 2 years from the date of discovery OR until the child’s 19th birthday, whichever comes first.

If you are looking to find your records, you’ll need to know the Medical Records Retention laws for medical doctors in Arkansas follow typical HIPAA regulations with sensitive or confidential information being kept for at least 6 years. Hospitals have slightly stricter rules with adult patients records being kept for 10 years after last discarchge. Minors records must be retained for 2 years after they turn 20.

Legal Resources:

Medical Malpractice – § 16-114-203
Arkansas Statute of Limitations – § 5-1-109
Medical Record Retention Laws by State

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

Additional Reading: How long is a life sentence in Arkansas?

More Arkansas Laws

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