What Is the Statute of Limitations on Fraud?

Many types of federal fraud cases carry a statute of limitations of five years, but some specific instances differ. According to the Pillsbury law firm, 28 U.S.C. Section 2462 limits the time within which an “action, suit or proceeding for the enforcement of any civil fine, penalty or forfeiture” may be brought to “five years from the date when the claim first accrued” in government lawsuits seeking civil penalties.

The federal statute of limitations differs on different types of fraud. For instance, the U.S. Attorney’s office explains that mail fraud and wire fraud prosecutions have a statute of limitations of five years, but mail and wire fraud schemes carry a statute of limitations of 10 years. However, Optima Tax Relief explains that a charge of tax fraud has a statute of limitations of three years unless the IRS finds the subject has concealed 25 percent of his income, in which case the statute of limitations doubles to six years. The statute of limitations also varies with different state laws as well. For example, small claims courts in California have a statute of limitations of two years for cases involving personal injury, but cases with a written contract carry a statue of limitations of four years.