For civil cases, such as lawsuits, state statute of limitations laws define the time period in which a suit must be filed, as measured from the date of the incident. For criminal cases, the statute of limitations prohibits prosecutors from charging for the commission of a crime after the passage of a specified number of years. Different states have different statutes of limitations for various types of civil actions and crimes, and California is no different. For example, there is a one-year time limit to bring defamation cases, but a four-year limit to sue for debt collection. Click on the links below to learn more about California's statutes of limitations.