A statute of limitations is the time frame within which a person or party can file a lawsuit against another person or party for a crime. The time periods will vary depending on the crime that took place; the most heinous crimes like aggravated rape and murder have no statute of limitations. The clock for the statute of limitations begins at the point it is discovered that a crime had occurred.
Say for example a person has been arrested for sexual assault, which has a 6 year statute of limitations. The victim chooses not to file charges because of fear, embarrassment, etc. However, 3 years later, the victim decides to file charges. The court will allow that, because it is still within the proper time frame. But say 6 and a half years had passed – the victim can no longer file charges against their abuser for this crime. More than 6 years had passed and the statute of limitations is up for this specific sexual assault case against this specific person. If there are other victims, they each would have their own 6 years to file charges.
Victims of crimes as well as those who are accused of committing them will be notified of statute of limitations for the crime that occurred.