Criminal Case vs. Civil Lawsuit for Crime Victims in Maryland
Criminal cases and civil lawsuits are not the same. In light of this, the following examines six differences between criminal cases and civil lawsuits for crime victims in Maryland.
The purpose of a criminal case is to punish the perpetrator for violating state criminal law. The perpetrator is responsible to the state, not the victim.
The purpose of a civil lawsuit is to compensate the victim for any harm or injury suffered. In civil lawsuits, the perpetrator is responsible to the victim, not the state.
In a criminal case, the state oversees the prosecution. A state’s attorney makes important decisions regarding the case.
In a civil lawsuit, the victim is in the driver’s seat. By suing the perpetrator directly, the victim has the authority to make important decisions related to their case.
- Victim’s Role
In a criminal case, the victim can be a witness. They can testify as to what they saw or experienced. But the victim does not have a position of authority in a criminal case.
In a civil lawsuit, however, the victim is a party to the case. As a result, the victim is entitled to all relevant information concerning the case. Moreover, the victim can even decide whether to accept a settlement or proceed to trial, depending on the circumstances.
- Burden of Proof
In a criminal case, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the state must erase any doubt when proving the perpetrator’s guilt. This is a difficult burden to meet.
On the other hand, the burden of proof in civil lawsuits is much less harsh. The victim must prove that their assertions are more likely than not. If the victim can satisfy this burden, then the perpetrator may face liability.
- Presumption of Innocence
In a criminal case, the perpetrator is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Coupled with the reasonable doubt standard, it is difficult to prove guilt in the criminal justice system.
In a civil lawsuit, there is no presumption of innocence. The victim and the perpetrator are considered equal parties to the lawsuit. Both receive the same level of consideration.
If the perpetrator loses a criminal case, the penalties generally include jail time and state fines. The victim will not receive any compensation, unless the court orders restitution. Though the Maryland courts are unable to award restitution for non-economic damages.
If the victim wins a civil lawsuit, the perpetrator must provide the court-ordered amount of compensation. A civil award to the victim can include economic damages — such as medical bills or lost wages — as well as non-economic damages — such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. In certain cases, the Maryland courts can even award punitive damages.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you were the victim of crime in Maryland, it can be remarkably fruitful to consult with a dependable personal injury lawyer. The lawyers at Iamele & Iamele, LLP in Baltimore, Maryland, understand the intricacies of representing crime victims. If you need legal help, contact us today for a free initial consultation.