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Can You Sue After a Criminal Case?

Can You Sue After a Criminal Case?

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Can You Sue After a Criminal Case?

As a victim of a crime, you’ve been through enough. It might help to see that your legal case will end in criminal charges, but even then, it doesn’t leave you the victim feeling whole. This is why some crime victims seek additional ways to hold a criminal accountable, usually by suing after a criminal case.

As a victim, you have rights both in the criminal sense and in the civil sense. The law recognizes that while the courts will determine what happens to someone accused of a crime, that doesn't always mean your life returns to normal after someone is convicted (or not convicted, depending on the outcome of the trial).

Plenty of victims would like to be able to move on with their life. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done. You may need to consult with a lawyer to discuss how the incident has impacted your life and some of the damages that you have suffered as a result of being a victim. It can be challenging to file an additional claim especially if the other party has already gone through the criminal process, but this might also be the only way to protect your interests and reclaim your rights. 

It is essential to work with an attorney who has been down this road before and one who understands many of the complex issues involved in victims' rights. You could be entitled to additional compensation depending on the specifics of your case, but it is in your best interest to work with a lawyer who understands this area of the law and with someone who is prepared to take action sooner rather than later.

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  • What Should Victims Do After Criminal Charges Are Filed? 

    Going through a criminal case raises a lot of questions, stress, and anxiety. It is important to remain aware of your legal rights for the entire situation, especially if you are the victim. Criminal trials and civil trials are completely distinct. This means that if you are the victim of a crime, it is likely that the local or federal authorities will take control of the criminal case. Although it can certainly help if a criminal case is proceeding at the same time and has found the accused person guilty in a court of law, it is not necessary for you to sue to recover compensation in a civil trial. This is because these are two different types of lawsuits and you still retain the rights as a civil victim even if the person is acquitted, accepts a plea bargain, or pleads down to reduced charges. In all of these circumstances, it is very important to have the support of an experienced attorney to guide you through the legal process.

    It can be very overwhelming to live through the impacts of going through the crime again, especially if you feel that the criminal justice system fell short in handing down justice. One of the key things to know about these kinds of lawsuits is that because civil and criminal cases are handled differently, different types of evidence and other rules of law may apply as you proceed with a case. This makes it even more important to retain the services of an attorney who has helped other criminal victims to recover compensation by filing civil lawsuits.

  • What Happens if You Sue the Perpetrator?

    Victims of the crime are eligible to recover compensation in certain cases for their losses. Victims, and in some cases their family members, may have the right to:

    • Get domestic violence victims leave from work where applicable
    • Seek payment from the state victim compensation board
    • File a civil lawsuit for monetary damages against the perpetrator
    • Apply for restitution from the state criminal court if the accused person pleads guilty or is found guilty

    It is important to recognize that you are not limited to one of these types of remedies, and you should always consult with an attorney to consider which are applicable and how best to proceed.

    There are differences in civil lawsuits versus victim restitution, however, and it is important to educate yourself about these as a victim so that you can understand the route most appropriate for you. The sooner you can work with the lawyer, the more confident you can be in the decisions you make about your next steps. 

  • Understanding the Difference Between Victim Restitution and Civil Lawsuits

    There are several different facts to know about the differences between victim restitution and civil lawsuits. With victim restitution:

    • There is no cost to the victim to pursue restitution
    • All 12 jurors on the case must agree on guilt in some states
    • The case is brought by the prosecutor
    • A plea or criminal conviction is often required
    • There is no potential for punitive damages in many states
    • The defendant must be convicted
    • The ability to file for restitution is limited to the victim, except when the victim is killed

    When it comes to a civil lawsuit, the following issues apply:

    • A criminal conviction is not necessary for a victim to proceed
    • The victim controls the case and pays their own attorneys
    • Nine or 12 jurors in many states can find liability
    • There is a lower burden of proof
    • Non-economic damages can be recovered
    • In some approved states, punitive damages are available
    • Additional parties may be held liable
    • Other family members may be able to sue

    There can be other parties besides a defendant named in a civil lawsuit. For example, perhaps a nightclub or hotel facility failed to provide appropriate security or a building owner did not have appropriate lighting in their parking garage.

  • Common Types of Civil Lawsuits Filed by Victims of Crime

    There are many different kinds of examples of civil lawsuits filed by victims of crime, but these can include:

    • Assault and battery
    • Stalking
    • Nursing home abuse
    • Lawsuits when an employee is assaulted by someone else at work
    • Domestic violence lawsuit

    When you reach out to an attorney to learn more about their willingness to represent you, ask for specifics about other similar cases that they have handled. It can instill you with confidence to know that they have worked with other victims who have gone through similar situations. 

  • Understanding Statutes of Limitations

    In most cases, a personal injury lawsuit statute of limitations will apply. This can be anywhere from two to four years depending on your individual state, and it limits the time period after an incident has occurred for you to pursue compensation. Hiring an experienced lawyer can help you navigate this process and give you greater clarity on the next steps that you must take. Having an attorney in your corner greatly increases your chances of success and will make it easier for you to navigate these situations and to discuss all of the key legal issues at play. For example, false imprisonment, theft, domestic violence, and childhood sexual assault or abuse may have different impacts.

  • Understanding the Civil Court Process

    Civil court cases usually begin through the following steps:

    • The complaint is filed with the local court
    • All parties involved in the case conduct discovery such as deposing other witnesses, requesting documents from the other side
    • Attorneys file pretrial motions
    • The jury is selected
    • The trial begins
    • Damages are determined in the event that the plaintiff is successful
    • The court issues a judgment
    • The plaintiff attempts to collect the debt

    It can be difficult enough to suffer as a victim of a crime, and going through the civil lawsuit process can bring up unpleasant memories and can be problematic for family members and friends of the victim as well. It is in a victim’s best interests to work with an experienced attorney to alleviate some of that difficulty and to help drive the desired result.

    Make sure that you consult with an attorney who is on your side and will work hard to be your advocate for the entirety of the case. Morgan & Morgan is here to guide you every step of the way and we can start with a free initial consultation on your case. Contact us today.

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Last updated on May 11, 2023

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