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How can crime victims seek justice on their own behalf?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Maybe someone committed an armed robbery at the business where you work, and you suffered a traumatic brain injury when they hit you in the side of the head with the firearm that they brandished. Perhaps you were on your way home from an unusually long day at work when a drunk driver passed out at the wheel and crashed into you, breaking your leg in four places and totaling your car.

As the victim of some kind of criminal act in Missouri, you may derive some comfort from the state choosing to prosecute the person who harmed you. However, sometimes prosecutors accept a plea deal that allows the person who irrevocably changed your life to avoid incarceration. Other times, you may feel like the criminal penalties they face aren’t enough because of the financial consequences you have endured.

How can you seek justice as someone hurt by a criminal?

Victims can take criminals to civil court

Personal injury statutes in Missouri allow you to seek compensation when harmed by neglect or wrongful acts. Some crime victims think that they cannot ask for compensation after a crime if the state prosecutes the person responsible. They think that asking for financial compensation, especially if the prosecution was successful, would be a violation of double jeopardy protections.

However, the right to be free from double jeopardy does not absolve someone of their financial liability to others. It simply protects them from prosecution by the government twice for the same specific criminal act. You have the right to initiate a civil claim if the state didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute the other party or if the courts quickly convicted them.

How criminal charges affect your civil case

A conviction in criminal court could bolster your case in civil court. Any evidence by the prosecution could potentially help you convince the civil courts of the validity of your claim for financial compensation.

However, even if there isn’t enough evidence for a prosecuting to charge and convict someone, there may be enough evidence to demand financial compensation. The standard for evidence in a lawsuit does not require that you prove your claim beyond a reasonable doubt but instead that the preponderance of evidence supports your claim.

Financial compensation and a civil court ruling in your favor can help you feel vindicated after suffering physical injury and likely emotional consequences because of someone else’s criminal conduct. Pursuing justice as a victim of a crime often requires knowing the law and getting the right support.