Often, a criminal case can also bring you civil charges. Many people don't understand the difference between the two types of charges. It's important that you know how the two can come at you simultaneously so you can better prepare for them.
Dealing with Dual Cases
Your criminal charge can involve injuring someone or affecting them in a negative but tangible way. The person so affected has the right to press civil charges against you. A few interesting things can happen to you in such a case.
- The criminal case will typically come first
- Evidence from the criminal case is admissible in the civil case
- An in-progress civil case will likely receive a stay by the judge until the criminal case ends
In addition, the results of each case do not have to match each other in anyway. The cases themselves can remain independent of each other, or the criminal case can inform the civil one.
Why it Isn't Double Jeopardy
You may think that charges in two different courts for the same offense counts as double jeopardy. A civil and criminal case isn't double jeopardy because only the criminal case counts under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
How the Two Cases Can Interact
When you have both a criminal and civil case, they both can act independently, but can also sometimes influence each other. It's all situational. A judge in a civil case can stay the case if he or she feels the criminal case will present evidence that makes the civil case easier.
While a stay is typical, it's still possible for each case to continue independently of each other. That independence can occur because the criminal case involves you and the government. A civil case involves you and a civil plaintiff. Both of these types of cases operate under their own rules. So it's never a given if they will involve each other or not.
Be Proactive With Your Cases
If you're facing both types of cases, then you need to act. One of the biggest mistakes is to just let things unfold as they may. If it doesn't look like the judge will stay your civil case, then you should ask that he or she does so.
You should avoid incriminating yourself in the civil case. While the two cases don't always interact, if you blatantly incriminate yourself in one, it will certainly get back to the other.
The most important thing you can do is to contact a criminal lawyer. You may want a criminal and civil lawyer, but your criminal lawyer will guide you towards what you should do.
Many criminal lawyers know how to deal with the civil aspects of your case. Some others will guide you towards someone who can help you deal with your civil case. Facing criminal and civil charges for the same offense represents a difficult path to navigate. You should absolutely avoid attempting it on your own. For more advice, contact a firm such as Malcolm Stewart Douglas Atty.