Wisconsin Statute of Limitations

Statute of Limitations WI- Summary Statute of Limitations as they apply to the state of Wisconsin

Wisconsin’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 Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin Civil Statute of Limitations

Wisconsin’s civil statute of limitations can range from 2 years to 6 years, depending on the nature of the case. The statute of limitation for injury to personal property, fraud, trespass and rent collection disputes is 6 yrs, while disputes concerning written and oral contracts carry a 6-year limit. The date of discovery of an incident or date an offense is committed 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 Wisconsin:

Injury to Person3 yrs. §893.57
Libel/Slander2 yrs. §893.57
Fraud6 yrs. §893.93(1)(b)
Injury to Personal Property6 yrs. §893.52
Professional MalpracticeMedical: the later of 3 yrs. from incident or 1 yr. from discovery (max. 5 yrs.) §893.55(1), (2)
Trespass6 yrs. §893.52
Collection of Rents6 yrs. §843.13(1)
ContractsWritten: 6 yrs. §893.43; Oral: 6 yrs. §893.43
Collection of Debt on AccountNot specified.
Judgments20 yrs.; Judgment of court not of record: 6 yrs §§893.40, 893.42

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

Wisconsin Criminal Statute of Limitations

Wisconsin’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, homicides and first-degree sexual assault. Other felonies carry statutes that can range from 1 to 15 years, depending on the nature of the offense. In some cases, the limit can be extended for 1 year if there is DNA identification of a probable perpetrator. Misdemeanors committed in this state carry a 3-year limit. Also, crimes against children have limits that vary depending on the victim’s age with the exception of first-degree sexual assault and repeated sexual assault of the same child which have no time limit. 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 Wisconsin:

Code SectionSection 939.74
FeloniesAttempted or committed first-degree homicide (intentional or reckless), murder, second-degree intentional homicide, or attempted or committed first-degree sexual assault: none.
Second-degree reckless homicide: the later of 15 years or extended up to one year with DNA identification of a probable perpetrator.
Second- or third-degree sexual assault: the later of 10 years or extended up to one year with DNA identification of a probable perpetrator.
Criminal misappropriation: 1 year to 11 years after discovering the loss.
All others: 6 years or extended up to one year with DNA identification of a probable perpetrator, whichever is later.
Misdemeanors3 yrs
Crimes in Which a Child Is a VictimAttempted or committed first-degree sexual assault, repeated sexual assault of the same child: none. Second-degree sexual assault, at least 3 acts of first- or second-degree sexual assault against the same child, intentional physical abuse or repeated acts of physical abuse against the same child, sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, incest, sexual enticement, computer-facilitated sex crimes, prostitution, or sexual assault by school staff or person who works or volunteers with children: Before the victim is 45-years old or extended up to one year with DNA identification of a probable perpetrator, whichever is later.
Reckless physical abuse, mental abuse, enticement that causes mental or bodily harm, or giving a child illegal drugs: Before the victim is 26-years old or extended up to one year with DNA identification of a probable perpetrator, whichever is later.
Acts During Which Statute Does Not RunWhen the perpetrator is not residing in the state. When the prosecution of the alleged crime is pending.
OtherAdultery: 3 years

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

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