Can a Civil Personal Injury Case Turn Criminal?

Civil case turns into criminal

What Is the Difference Between Civil Proceedings and Criminal Proceedings?

The main difference between civil and criminal cases is that a civil case is a dispute over money while a criminal case is a dispute over an alleged crime. Money, however, can be a component in both. If a criminal case alleges some type of financial harm to a victim, then there could be restitution added as a component of the case.

If someone is found liable in a civil case, then the most that can happen is a money judgment, where prison time is the most serious penalty that can happen to someone in Washington if they are found guilty of a crime.

Other punishments for a criminal conduct include community service, probation, and other consequences deemed appropriate by the court. If someone is harmed by someone else, then the case that arises can potentially be a civil case, a criminal case, or both. If you have been involved in an accident where civil and or criminal charges are possible, then it is important to speak to an experienced attorney right away.

Can Evidence from a Civil Case Be Used in a Criminal Case?

Yes, the evidence from a case can be used for all relevant purposes. If someone is charged with drunk driving and hits a car while drunk, then the evidence collected can be used by the police for criminal prosecution and by the owner of the car the driver hit in filing an insurance claim for his or her damaged vehicle. The evidence that can be used for both a civil and criminal case include:

  • Police reports
  • Medical reports
  • Witness statements from potential witnesses
  • Any videos of the scene or incident
  • Any photos of the scene or incident
  • Any physical evidence collected

The testimony that someone gives in court is recorded and can be put into a transcript. A transcript can also be made for testimony in a deposition during the discovery process. This transcript can be used in any civil or criminal case if introduced properly by an attorney during a hearing.

How Can a Civil Case Turn into a Criminal Case?

A case can start as a civil case and turn into a criminal case when evidence is uncovered that suggests a crime was committed. If a car accident occurs, and it is later determined that a driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then it can lead to criminal charges in addition to a personal injury lawsuit. It is important to note that a case doesn’t actually convert into a different type of case.

If a case starts as a civil case, then it is a case between the parties involved. If criminal charges are warranted, then after an investigation by a law enforcement agency, the local District Attorney will authorize criminal charges in a separate criminal case and parallel proceeding.

While the cases may move in a similar fashion, they are not necessarily dependent on one another, will operate independently, and can have inconsistent results. The reason why civil matters and criminal matters could have different outcomes is that there are different levels of proof required for civil and criminal liability.

What Are the Different Burdens of Proof Between Civil and Criminal Cases?

The burden of proof is how much a case has to be proven by the person bringing the case to be successful. This burden of proof differs based on the type of case presented. If you are injured in a car accident and file a personal injury case, then you are the plaintiff in the case.

The plaintiff in a personal injury case has to prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence to be successful. This means that it is proven that the events more likely than not took place the way that the plaintiff is contending. If you are harmed by someone committing a criminal act, then the state is the plaintiff as the prosecutor and he or she must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the events took place as contended.

The defendant in a case, regardless of whether in a civil claim or criminal claim, does not have to prove innocence or present any evidence to win. Theoretically, a defendant can sit there during a criminal trial or a civil trial completely silent and not present a case at all and can win if the plaintiff or prosecutor is unable to present enough evidence to meet the necessary burden of proof. This can result in the defendant avoiding  a criminal conviction, jail time, and financial liability.

What Should You Do If You Are Facing a Potential Case?

If you have been involved in an accident, then it is important to at least speak to an experienced attorney who can give you legal advice so you can understand what potential legal actions can occur as a result.

It is also important to speak to an attorney to understand what potential compensation you might be entitled to in a claim or lawsuit. In investigating your case, your attorney might uncover information that can result in criminal charges for the responsible party, which can help you receive justice in multiple ways.

If someone pleads guilty or is found guilty of a criminal offense, then that can be used to find that person liable in a civil court as well. Make sure you have an attorney on your side who can help you connect the dots to ensure that you don’t leave money on the table. If you have legal questions, then call us at the Law Office of Sofia Miguel so we can help!

Sofia’s No Fee Guarantee

Attorney Sofia Miguel guarantees that you will never write a check to our office under Sofia’s “no fee guarantee.” Consultations are free and if your case is selected, then Sofia will also cover all of your court costs that are incurred during your slip and fall case.

Sofia only gets paid what you do. Her services will cost you nothing out of pocket; simple as that. Let Sofia’s nearly twenty years of experience in helping people recover from their injuries get to work for you now.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from a slip and fall near Seattle, Puyallup, or Tacoma, WA, then contact attorney Sofia Miguel as she is ready to help you fight to get the money you deserve. Call us at 253-200-4471, come visit our office right here in Puyallup at 702 S. Hill Park Dr. #207, or contact us online anytime. We are here for you.

Personal Injury Attorney Puyallup

Sofia K. Miguel, Attorney

Sofia K. Miguel has extensive litigation experience; she has tried or arbitrated hundreds of cases throughout Western Washington. She graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 2000 and has 17 years’ experience representing injured people. She is a member of the Washington State Bar Association and an EAGLE member of the Washington State Association for Justice.

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