Civil Claims for Crime Victims
If you have been the victim of a crime, you may have already spent a great deal of time and effort working with police and prosecutors to see that the perpetrator is prosecuted and brought to justice. This process is a crucial part of our criminal justice system’s mission to protect the public.
Outside of the criminal justice system, the law provides that when people unfairly injure others, they have liability towards the victims. These actions are called torts, and a victim can pursue compensation through the civil justice system.
Similarly, third parties whose negligence has enabled the attack or offense can also be held liable. A property owner who fails to provide adequate external lighting or locks for a residence, or a business with inadequate security measures and unsecured lots may be responsible for offenses that occur in part because of their negligence.
The criminal justice system aims to bring criminals to justice, but in doing so, it takes great pains to protect the innocent from being falsely convicted. The level of proof needed to convict is therefore set extremely high in order to ensure that as often as possible, our society only sends actual criminals to prison. Unfortunately, the result is that sometimes there is inadequate proof to convict the criminal.
The civil court system is the place where victims of a crime can go after those responsible for their harm. The level of proof needed is not as high as in a criminal case, so the civil court system can often offer a victim some measure of justice in the form of monetary compensation. One high profile example is the 1997 civil action taken by the families of Ronald Goldman and Denise Brown against O.J. Simpson, who was previously acquitted of their murders in criminal court, but was held liable for those deaths by after a civil trial.