Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations

Statute of Limitations PA- Summary

The Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania Pennsylvania’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 Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania Civil Statute of Limitations

Pennsylvania’s civil statute of limitations sets deadlines under which lawsuits and other civil actions must be filed in the state. These limits can range from one – twenty 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 Pennsylvania:

Injury to Person2 yrs. Tit. 42§5524(1)
Libel/Slander1 yr. Tit. 42§5523(1)
Fraud2 yrs. Tit. 42§5524(7)
Injury to Personal Property2 yrs. Tit. 42§5524(3)
Professional Malpractice2 yrs. Tit. 42 §5524(7), (8)
Trespass2 yrs. Tit. 42 §5524(4)
Collection of Rents21 yrs. Tit. 42§5530(2)
ContractsWritten: 20 yrs. (under seal); 4 yrs. (other) Tit. 42 §5529(b); 5525(8)
Oral: 4 yrs. Tit. 42§5525(3)
Collection of Debt on Account2 yrs. Tit. 42§5524
Judgments4 yrs. Tit. 42 §5525(5)

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

Pennsylvania Criminal Statute of Limitations

Pennsylvania’s criminal statute of limitations sets time limits on the filing of criminal charges in the state, but there is no deadline for crimes considered especially heinous, including murder, voluntary manslaughter, conspiracy to commit murder, vehicular homicide, and more. Depending on the offense, other felonies must be prosecuted within a time-frame typically ranging from two – twelve years. Misdemeanors carry a two-year limitation period in Pennsylvania.

A summary of criminal statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania:

Code SectionPennsylvania Statutes Tit. 42 Sections 5551; 5552; 5553 and 5554
Felonies– Murder; voluntary manslaughter; conspiracy to murder; soliciting to commit murder and murder results; any felony connected with 1st or 2nd-degree murder, vehicular homicide; aggravated assault if the accused knew the victim was a law enforcement officer acting within the officer’s duties: none.
– Rape; statutory sexual assault; incest; sexual abuse of children: 12 yrs. 
– Criminal attempt/solicitation/conspiracy to commit murder that did not result in murder; aggravated assault; terroristic threats; kidnapping; arson; burglary; robbery; forgery; insurance fraud; bribery in official or political matters; perjury; intimidation of witness or victims; prostitution: 5 yrs. 
– Any offense committed by a public officer or employee in the course of their office/employment: prosecution must begin while the defendant is still in office or within 5 yrs. of the offense (max. 8 yrs.)
– Other felonies: 2 yrs.
Misdemeanors2 yrs.
Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run– If the accused is absent state, not a resident, or in hiding.
– If the accused already has prosecution pending against them for the same offense.
– Crimes against a child under 18 involving injuries caused by wrongful act/neglect/unlawful violence/negligence, committed by the parent or person responsible for the child.

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

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