statute of limitations

noun phrase

Definition of statute of limitations 

: a statute assigning a certain time after which rights cannot be enforced by legal action or offenses cannot be punished

First Known Use of statute of limitations

1641, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of statute of limitations was in 1641

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statute of limitations

Legal Definition of statute of limitations 

1a : a statute establishing a period of time from the accrual of a cause of action (as upon the occurrence or discovery of an injury) within which a right of action must be exercised — compare laches, statute of repose

b : a criminal statute establishing the period of time within which an offense can be punished after its commission

2 : a period of time established by a statute of limitations for commencing an action or prosecution

3 : an affirmative defense that the statute of limitations has expired

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