Virginia Statute of Limitations

Statute of Limitations VA- Summary Statute of Limitations as they apply to the state of Virginia

Virginia’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 Virginia. 

Virginia Civil Statute of Limitations

Virginia’s civil statute of limitations can range from 1 year to 20 years, depending on the nature of the case. The statute of limitation for injury to person, libel/slander and fraud is 2 yrs, while injury to personal property carries a 5 year limit. The date of discovery of an incident or date an offense is committed is usually when time starts counting down. In instances where a plaintiff is a minor or has a mental disability and is unable to file a suit, the civil statute of limitation may be paused under what is known as tolling.

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 Virginia:

Injury to Person2 yrs. §8.01-243(A)
Libel/Slander2 yrs. §8.01-243(A)
Fraud2 yrs. §8.01-243(A)
Injury to Personal Property5 yrs. §8.01-243(B)
Professional MalpracticeHealth care providers: 1 to 2 yrs.; A maximum of 10 yrs. §8.01-243.1
Trespass5 yrs. §8.01-243(B)
Collection of RentsNot specified.
ContractsWritten: 5 yrs. §8.01-246(2); Oral: 3 yrs. §8.01-246(4)
Collection of Debt on AccountNot specified.
Judgments20 yrs.; enforcing the lien of any judgment: 10 yrs. §8.01-251(a),(c)

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

Virginia Criminal Statute of Limitations

Virginia’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, rape, object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery and infected sexual battery. Other felonies carry statutes that can range from 1 to 5 years, depending on the nature of the offense. Misdemeanors committed in this state carry limits ranging from 1 to 5 years, depending on the type of the case. Also, cases concerning statutory rape of children have no limit whereas other sexual violence against children have a limit of 1 year after the victim reaches majority. This is because children are most vulnerable to abuse and it can take longer for them to recall and understand what happened to them. These limitations are established to ensure criminal charges are handled efficiently and in a timely manner. The limits also help preserve the integrity of evidence such as testimonies from witnesses that may become unreliable with time.

A summary of criminal statutes of limitation in Virginia:

Code SectionVa. Code sec. 19.2-8
FeloniesMost felonies, such as murder, rape, forcible sodomy, object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, infected sexual battery: none.
Attempted felonies listed above: none Unlawful creation of image of another, cruelty to animals: 5 yrs (except for agricultural animals: 1 yr)
MisdemeanorsMalfeasance in office, Building Code violations: 2 yrs
Petit larceny: 5 yrs
Violation of the Virginia Computer Crimes Act or identity theft: 5 yrs (after the last act in the course of violation) or 1 yr (following the existence of illegal act and identity of offender are discovered).
Making false presentation under Virginia Unemployment Compensation Act to receive benefits, attempt to evade or failure to pay taxes, violation of certain laws, e.g., discharge, dumping, or emission of toxic substance, violation of rules of Virginia Real Estate Board, violation for which a penalty is provided, falsifying patient records, illegal sales of wild birds, animals, or freshwater fish: 3 yrs
Attempt to produce abortion: 2 yrs
Practicing law without authority: 2 yrs
Misdemeanor violation (including of any professional licensure requirement imposed by a locality): within 1 yr of discovery, max 5 yrs after offense Others: 1 yr
Crimes in Which a Child Is a VictimStatutory rape of a child between 13 and 15 yrs: none.
Statutory rape of certain minors: none.
Misdemeanor attempted sexual battery of a minor: within 1 yr after the victim reaches majority.
Sexual abuse of a child under 15: within 1 yr after the victim reaches majority.
Taking indecent liberties with children: none.
Penetration of mouth of child with lascivious intent: within 1 yr after the victim reaches majority.
Violation of laws governing the placement of children for adoption without a license: 1 yr
Acts During Which Statute Does Not RunWhen the offender is fleeing justice or in hiding.
Deserting a spouse or child or for neglect or failure to provide support.

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

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