What happens if the negligent or malicious person responsible for your current suffering ends up in criminal court? If you're like many plaintiffs, you worry that a possible criminal case could harm civil proceedings, thereby making it more difficult to obtain compensation. In reality, however, criminal and civil cases often go hand-in-hand — and desirable outcomes may be well within reach.
The Interplay of Civil and Criminal Cases
Legal cases involving both civil and criminal elements need not be regarded as either-or propositions. In fact, criminal proceedings can actually help civil plaintiffs by bringing extensive evidence to light. That being said, different outcomes are possible. An alleged offender can be found guilty in criminal court while managing to avoid civil damages — or vice versa.
Winning a Civil Case After Disappointment in Criminal Court
Don't lose hope if a defendant currently involved in both civil and criminal cases is ultimately found not guilty or let off with a light sentence. In such cases, civil court provides the perfect opportunity to deliver justice that may be perceived as lacking in criminal proceedings. Many defendants found not guilty in criminal cases have gone on to pay extensive damages in related civil lawsuits, in part because the burden of proof tends to be quite a bit higher for criminal proceedings. Ultimately, if your lawyer can prove that you were harmed as a result of negligence or malicious intent, you stand a good chance of coming away with extensive civil damages.
Examples of the disparities between civil and criminal courts abound. The most obvious, of course, involves O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted by a jury but later forced to shell out tens of millions in a civil lawsuit. Not every case will deliver such extensive damages, but there's no question that civil victories are within reach regardless of criminal outcomes.