The American criminal justice system is one of the best, most successful systems in the world. It strives to remain fair, impartial, and protect the American public from the perpetrators of crime. However, despite its best efforts, and despite the fact that it has such a solid track record, occasionally mistakes are made. Sometimes guilty people do get away with their crimes, because the burden of proof is always about proving guilt rather than innocence. When a criminal does get away with his or her actions it will usually leave the victim of the crime, or the victim’s family, feeling devastated. Fortunately they do have some recourse thanks to the option of filing a civil case. A civil case can benefit a victim or their family in a number of important ways which we will briefly examine in this article.
One important way that a civil case can help a victim is by providing a sense of closure. When the perpetrator got away with his or her crimes in criminal court, it probably felt like an extreme miscarriage of justice. The victim, or their family, may have felt incapable of moving on and continuing their life knowing that the individual who caused so much pain and suffering was still out there, free to offend again.
A civil case, though it won’t result in any jail time, will at least allow the victim to feel as though justice has been served. They can take comfort in the knowledge that at least the perpetrator paid in terms of money, even if they didn’t pay with their freedom. It can also be very vindicating to get that affirmation from a judge and jury that the suffering the victim experienced is real and valid.
The sad reality is that being a victim of a crime can be a very costly experience in terms of actual money as well as the emotional and physical pain and suffering. If the victim has been physically hurt then it is likely that they will need costly medical treatment, surgery, or medications. An emotionally painful experience may necessitate costly therapy and counseling. Both experiences are also likely to cause a loss of wages while the person is unable to work due to their recovery.
A civil case will play a very important role in recovering some of the money lost due to the victim’s experiences. It will help provide a way for the victim or their family to pay for the related expenses and it might even allow for some additional time off, therapy, or treatment that couldn’t be afforded in the first place, but is nevertheless needed. Receiving monetary compensation absolutely shouldn’t be viewed as greedy or selfish, because it is truly money that the victim or their family deserves as a result of their suffering.
SENDS A MESSAGE
Another important function of a civil case as that a victory in court sends an important message. It lets other potential perpetrators know that they can’t get away free with their actions. It says that there is a penalty for what happened and that it must be paid.
It also sends an important message to the community at large. It lets people know what that perpetrator did and potentially warns them away from letting the same thing happen to them. It also further emphasizes the validity and realness of the pain and suffering that the victim experienced.
DISSUADES THE PERPETRATOR
In addition to sending a message to other people it sends one to the actual perpetrator as well. It lets him or her know that their actions are not without consequence and ideally it should dissuade the perpetrator from committing similar crimes in the future. The money lost by the perpetrator should send them a clear message that this is what happens when you hurt other people.
The takeaway message from all of this is that though a victory in civil court cannot take the place of a victory in criminal court it nevertheless offers some major benefits. In fact some of the benefits offered by civil cases may even be exclusive to them. If you or your family member have been the victim of a crime and have not found justice from a criminal case then you are encouraged to look into your options for a civil case.