If my friend took my car without my permission and totalled it, how long do I have to press charges?

UPDATED: May 2, 2011

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If my friend took my car without my permission and totalled it, how long do I have to press charges?

I reported it but did not press charges.

Asked on May 2, 2011 under Criminal Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The statute of limitations is the time to initiate a legal action. It appears that in Washington State, you have at least a year to press charges, possible as long as three--the issue will be the value of the car, which will determine whether it's unlawful (without permission) taking is a misdomenor (1 year) or a felony (3 years). However, never go right up to the deadline before acting.

You would also be able to sue the friend for the cost to repair the car if repairable; or if not, for its value. It appears that your statute of limitations to sue him would be three years, so you may wish to consider whether you should do this in addition to, or even instead of, pressing charges. Good luck.

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