As the saying goes, there are no victimless crimes. Thus, when a criminal case is pursued against the accused offender, the victim of the crime still suffers regardless if the accused is convicted or not. While justice being served can help a victim cope with the matter, this cannot address the harms personally experienced. In these matters, filing a civil suit for damages could address these losses.
The differences between a criminal and civil matter
A criminal case typically involves an action that is considered to be harmful to society; thus, they are considered to be offenses against the state or the jurisdiction where the individual is be prosecuted. In contrast, a civil case commonly involves a private dispute between persons or organizations.
There are also key differences in these matters when it comes to an individual’s duty and proof of liability. This could, in some cases, allow for an individual not convicted for the criminal charges still being found liable in the civil matter. While criminal and civil cases are vastly different, there are some crossovers, especially when a civil matter arises from a criminal matter.
Where criminal and civil matters cross paths
Certain acts could result in both a criminal and civil action arising. For example, an offender may be arrested and charged with an assault or a battery, and that same offender may be sued by the victim for the intentional tort of assault or battery. In this case, the offender could face punishment of fines and prison time for the criminal act while the civil matter could result in the victim recovering compensation for the damages caused by the criminal act.
Some criminal activities give way to civil liability. For example, when an offender is charged with homicide, he or she is also sued for wrongful death, typically following the completion of the criminal case. However, even when this is not the case, it is important for victims to understand when and if it is possible to bring a civil suit that is related to a current criminal matter.
Civil cases differ from criminal matters, which is why it is important that victims of crimes understand these differences. This information can help one better understand the process, as the outcome of the criminal matter does not prevent one from pursuing a civil matter.