If I win my criminal trial, can I still be sued in a civil court case?

Yes, even if you have been tried for a crime in a criminal court case, you can still be sued in a civil court case for the same crime.

You might be asking how this can be, as it sounds like double jeopardy.  But a common misconception about not being sued in civil court after a criminal trial stems from the defense of double jeopardy.  Double jeopardy is a legitimate defense that states that someone cannot be tried for the same charges a second time if they were acquitted or found guilty in the first trial.  However, double jeopardy only applies to multiple cases using the same legal standard.  Criminal and civil court cases use different legal standards.

A criminal trial relates to the breaking of a law for which the state or federal government is responsible for filing the case.  In a criminal trial, the case must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  This means that based on the evidence there is no other logical explanation except that the defendant must be found guilty of the crime.

A civil trial relates to the wronging of one person by another, and that wronged individual is responsible for filing the case.  In a civil case, the defendant must be proven guilty by a preponderance of the evidence.  This means that based on the evidence the defendant is simply more likely to be guilty than not to be guilty.

A recent example of one crime that may result in a criminal and civil court case is that of Casey Anthony.  In October 2008, Casey Anthony was charged with first-degree murder in the death of her two-year-old daughter Caylee.  In July 2011, Casey was found not guilty of that murder charge.  The murder charge was a criminal charge, as murder is considered a crime against the state or society as a whole.

Although Casey was found not guilty of the murder charge, Caylee’s father can sue Casey for the wrongful death of Caylee.  Wrongful death is based on civil laws, and Caylee’s father could bring such a suit by claiming that Casey failed in upholding her responsibility to take care of Caylee, and therefore, Caylee’s father has experienced a loss as a result.

In the example above with Casey Anthony, while the penalty of a conviction for murder may have carried a lengthy jail sentence, life in prison, or possibly execution, the penalty for a conviction in the civil case would likely carry a monetary award as compensatory and punitive damages.

How can I obtain legal assistance in a pending criminal case, civil case, or both?

You can obtain legal assistance by completing the short form at http://www.criminaldefensehome.com/eval_bar.php.  While completing this form does not obligate you to hire an attorney and it is 100% confidential, it will allow a criminal defense lawyer to review your situation to determine if you should hire an attorney.  Given the possible repercussions of a guilty verdict in a criminal case, civil case, or possibly both, you should not pass up this opportunity to obtain legal representation.  So seek the help you need today.

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Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.

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