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Explaining The Criminal vs Civil Process

One of the most common questions asked by those who have been harmed in an auto accident in which the other driver was arrested is whether the criminal prosecution process either hinders or even precludes the injured party or parties from enforcing their own legal rights in civil court with a claim for damages. Below is an overview of this issue.

Civil Claims Do Not Need to Wait for the Prosecution to Be Complete

When an auto accident occurs and one of the drivers is arrested, the criminal prosecution process does not wait to get started. The wheels of government start to turn immediately, and this is how things proceed whether the injured party wants to file a lawsuit for personal injury or not. The bottom line in these situations is that the injured party does not have to wait for the criminal prosecution to be completed before he or she attempts to enforce his or her own legal rights. The person who’s been wronged can also file a claim immediately, although in some cases it may be advantageous to allow the prosecutorial process to play out.

A Conviction Can Be Powerful Evidence

One fact to consider is that when someone is prosecuted for criminal charges, the government needs to prove these charges with the highest standard of proof in existence. Specifically, the prosecution’s case must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, if the defendant is convicted, it’s proof that he or she committed the crime of which he or she was accused even though the standard of proof was difficult to meet.

If someone allows a conviction to be recorded, the record of this conviction could be powerful evidence for his or her case, as personal injury cases need only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the allegations are more likely to be true than untrue. This lower standard of proof can provide a personal injury case a tangible boost.

However, there are risks involved with allowing the criminal prosecution to play out, including statute of limitations concerns and pragmatic concerns such as securing the ability to collect on a judgment or settlement. Rather than attempting to make this strategic decision by yourself, seek the help of a Florida auto accident attorney who has over 25 years of experience in making these types of judgment calls. Contact Bernstein & Maryanoff today to schedule a free initial consultation.