How do criminal charges impact civil lawsuits?

Although criminal and civil proceedings are handled completely separately, a criminal conviction could assist you and your lawyer in proving that the driver was negligent. In the example we provided, even a DUI conviction could help prove that the driver had little regard for others on the road.

To understand how this works, you have to understand the difference between criminal and civil cases. In criminal cases, the burden of proof is very high: beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, however, the burden of proof is much lighter. You must simply prove that it is more likely than not that the driver’s negligence caused your injuries. 

If you present a criminal conviction as evidence in a civil trial, the court may accept it as sufficient evidence to prove negligence because it was already proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the criminal trial.

You may be wondering now what will happen if the driver is not convicted. In that case, you may not have evidence to bolster your case, but how the case is handled may give you and your attorney an idea of how the defense plans to approach your civil case.