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North Carolina Statute of Limitations

Statute of Limitations NC- Summary

North Carolina’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 North Carolina. 

North Carolina Civil Statute of Limitations

North Carolina’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 – three years, depending on the type of case or procedure. The date or discovery of an incident is usually when time starts counting down.

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 North Carolina:

Injury to Person3 yrs. §1-52
Libel/Slander1 yr. §1-54
Fraud3 yrs. §1-52(9)
Injury to Personal Property3 yrs. §1-52(4)
Professional MalpracticeAfter the last act of the defendant occurred: 2 yrs. or more, with a max. extension of 4 yrs.; damages by result of a foreign object left in the body: 1 yr. upon discovery, max. extension of 10 yrs. §1-15
Trespass3 yrs. §1-52(3)
Collection of Rents3 yrs. §1-52
ContractsWritten: 3 yrs. §1-52(1); Oral: 3 yrs. §1-52(1)
Collection of Debt on Account
Judgments10 yrs. §1-47

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

North Carolina Criminal Statute of Limitations

North Carolina’s criminal statute of limitations is unique in the sense that it doesn’t place any deadline on bringing charges for felony offenses, which are classified based on the nature of the offense under the state’s Structured Sentencing Act. Like felonies, misdemeanors considered “malicious” – meaning the offense was committed with willful malice or bad motive – also don’t have a statute of limitations. However regular (or “non-malicious”) misdemeanors must be prosecuted within two years.

A summary of criminal statutes of limitations in North Carolina:

Code SectionNorth Carolina General Statutes Chapter 15. Criminal Procedure § 15-1
FeloniesNorth Carolina’s Structured Sentencing Act classifies felonies based on the offense, and none have a statute of limitations. Examples of felony classifications include the following:
– Class A: Murder; use of a weapon of mass destruction that injures others.
– Class B: Rape; other sexual offenses; other offenses related to weapons of mass destruction.
– Class C: Sentencing of habitual offenders; malicious maiming; kidnapping; assault with deadly weapon with the intent to kill and causing serious injury; embezzlement.
– Class D: Voluntary manslaughter; burglary; arson; robbery with a firearm.
– Class E: Serious child abuse; assault with a firearm on LEO; malicious use of an explosive.
– Class F: Perjury; bribery; elder abuse.
– Class G: Identity thefts; computer crimes; possession of a firearm by a felon.
– Class H: Possession of stolen goods; larceny; forgery; making false reports.
– Class I: Breaking and Entering; possession of counterfeit tools.
Misdemeanors“Malicious” misdemeanors (typically, committed with willful malice or bad motive): none.
“Non-malicious” misdemeanors: 2 yrs.

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

North Carolina Recording Laws