Ever stumbled upon terms like “statutes of limitations” and felt a bit lost? Grasping the ins and outs of statutes of limitations is essential, particularly when navigating debts or eyeing potential legal hurdles. But with so much confusion around, it’s high time to debunk some myths and lay out the facts.

Misconceptions about Limitations

  1. Every debt is under the same time frame.

Different debts have timelines, and the type of debt and where it’s disputed play a big role. For instance, credit card debts might have another limitation period than personal loans. Best to check specifics based on your situation.

  1. Every crime’s statute is a carbon copy.

While we might all love maple syrup equally, not all crimes get viewed the same. Grave crimes, like murder, don’t have a ticking clock. But shoplifting? There’s a specific window of time for legal actions. It ensures justice gets served while also considering the gravity of the act.

  1. Once the time’s up, you’re untouchable.

It’s tempting to think this, eh? But there are exceptions. Take fraud cases as an example. Or if someone formally recognizes a debt in writing, it might reset the clock. So, it’s never as simple as watching the calendar days roll by.

  1. The timer starts with the initial debt.

It’s more like waiting for the kettle to whistle. The clock doesn’t necessarily start from the moment you incur the debt. It’s more about when you last made a payment or acknowledged it. It’s crucial to keep track of these dates.

  1. Only collection-bound debts count.

It’s common to think that if those pesky collection agencies aren’t chasing a debt, it’s unbound by any limitations. But here’s the twist, folks: whether you’ve just received the bill at your favourite Timmy’s or it gets handed off to collections after sitting for a while, the statute of limitations has its eyes on it.

It means that even if your debt has yet to reach the collectors, it doesn’t get a free pass from the statute. So, be it a forgotten utility bill or that gym membership you never used, all debts, big or small, are under the umbrella of these laws.

  1. Civil and criminal cases are the same.

It’s easy to muddle these two up. But let’s clear the snowy path here. Civil cases often revolve around disputes between individuals or organizations. Consider conflicts about contracts, properties, or personal injuries from that rogue hockey puck. On the other hand, criminal cases address violations against the state — actions that harm society, like theft or assault. And just as the stakes differ, so do their limitation periods. For instance, a minor civil dispute might have a shorter window than a serious criminal offence. So while both may seem like they’re playing on the same rink, they’ve got different rulebooks.

  1. One-size-fits-all for legal actions

Legal proceedings aren’t a monolithic block. Different legal proceedings have nuances, and with nuances come varied timeframes. An official lawsuit, for example, where someone’s taking another party to court over damages, might have a different statute than administrative hearings, which could be about professional licensure disputes or zoning issues. Just as you wouldn’t wear your Vancouver rain jacket for a Quebec winter, each legal situation has its own protective rules.

  1. The statute of limitations is always two years.

The time limit to make a personal injury claim is often two years, but this can change depending on where and what kind of claim you’re making.


Understanding statutes of limitations in our great northern land is more than just a walk in the park. But, with some guidance and perhaps consultation with professional criminal lawyers, you’ll navigate the terrain like a pro. This article is one way you can start to understand common legal misconceptions.