Awaiting the Conclusion of the Criminal Case before the Civil Proceeding

King County Criminal Defense Attorney

Plaintiffs often wait until after the criminal case has concluded before proceeding with a civil lawsuit. In doing so, the plaintiff will attempt to exploit the conviction by claiming that the civil case is similar in nature; he will also claim that a conviction in one case should lead to a conclusion of liability in the other case. This is known as “res judicata.” This is especially true if the civil case involves lawsuits filed by the victims of a crime, shareholder derivative cases, or actions to suspend or revoke a professional license.

If you are acquitted of the criminal charge, the plaintiff has the burden of proving the civil case without regard to the fact that criminal charges were brought. However, your King County criminal defense attorney will not be permitted to use your criminal acquittal as a defense in your civil case.

Despite the acquittal, you may have Fifth Amendment rights that you can assert in the subsequent civil trial. Although conventional wisdom suggests the Double Jeopardy clause of the United States Constitution bars a second trial on a criminal case that resulted in an acquittal, that is not absolute.

If the original criminal case was brought in state court, a second criminal case may sometimes be filed in federal court and vice versa. In other situations, if the activity that resulted in the criminal charge occurred in more than one state, either or both states may file charges.

The interweaving of civil and criminal cases is a complex matter. A consultation with an experienced King County criminal defense attorney is a necessary first step to best protect your rights. Call King County criminal defense attorney today for a free evaluation of your case.


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