The Challenges of Suing Someone Who Was Convicted of a Crime

Criminal justice and civil justice have different processes and intents. Criminal court penalizes someone for their crimes against society. It punishes them with fines, community service, jail time, etc. Civil court is not ostensibly about punishing people. It is about financially compensating someone for their injuries.

If you’ve been injured by someone’s criminal negligence, you may have witnessed this person tried and sentenced for their crimes. Perhaps you even participated in the trial, helping to put them away. Such actions are satisfying. They help you receive closure, and they give you a sense that justice has been served.

This emotional satisfaction may not, however, help you in your daily life, especially when you’ve been hurt. You may be facing mounting medical bills, missing work and income, and have property damage unaddressed. To solve these issues, you may wish to file a lawsuit.

Civil court allows you to sue someone at virtually any time, even if they are incarcerated. You can also file a lawsuit against someone who was found not guilty of the same behavior that injured you. Civil court requires only a preponderance of evidence to secure a victory. Unlike a criminal trial, the jury must be only 51% or more certain of the claim to rule against the defendant.

Before leaping at the opportunity to sue someone for the same crime that harmed you, you should be aware of the obstacles involved. Even if victory is all but assured, pursuing the lawsuit may not be worth the effort. Here are some challenges involved in suing a convicted criminal.

Getting a Criminal into Court

Simply getting a trial against a convicted criminal off the ground can be a problem. First off, the convict could still be incarcerated. This means that they need special clearance to attend trial. Your attorney must work with the correctional facility to make this happen, and this process can be slow and complicated.

Just locating the convict can be an issue. Inmates are often moved around, and it can be difficult to pin down their location. Once you do, you must start the process of pleading to have them appear in court. They could be moved again before the request is granted, which could mean that you and your attorney must start the process over.

The Criminal May Be “Litigation Proof”

The entire purpose of filing a lawsuit to receive financial compensation on the other side. The exercise becomes meaningless if the defendant has nothing to offer. This could be the case when suing a criminal.

People sometimes get paid for doing jobs while in jail. However, they must first earn the trust of the authorities, allowing them to work in the first place. Even when they do, they could be earning dollars or pennies per hour.

The criminal you wish to sue may be wealthy. Perhaps you were the victim of a white-collar crime, and this is the matter you wish to bring to court. They could even be middle-class, and they could afford to pay damages by selling off assets.

The inmate, however, may have nothing to offer. In this case, pursuing a lawsuit would be counterproductive.

The Good News

Assuming that the inmate can be found, and they have the means to pay for your damages, the lawsuit has the potential to go very smoothly. If they were already convicted of the crime that caused your injury, you have a strong case against them.

Remember, criminal court requires 100% certainty. Criminals are proven to be guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” With that standard of evidence, it can be simple to prove their actions and gain the compensation you need.

Talk to an Attorney

If you need financial compensation for an injury, and the negligent party is in jail, talk to an attorney about your situation. They can investigate the situation and help you decide if going forward with a lawsuit is your best option.

If it isn’t, your lawyer may be able to provide other options. They may be able to work with your insurance company and negotiate a better deal. If the accident was the result of a vehicular crime, such as a DUI, your attorney may be able to work with the convict’s insurer to get you the benefits you need.

If you’ve been hurt by a convicted criminal, reach out to our firm for help. We may be able to help you find options for receiving financial compensation. You can call us at (720) 809-8262 or contact us online.