Understanding the Criminal and Civil Justice Systems

as inappropriate parole release, inadequate probation supervision, improper street or highway maintenance or signage, and failure to arrest a substance impaired driver who then kills or injures someone. Proving Your Case in Court You and your civil attorney are responsible for proving your civil case in court. Remember that you can win a civil case even though the criminal case may not have been successful. In criminal court, the judge or jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the defendant. In civil court, the judge or jury must be convinced only by a preponderance of the evidence, generally a 51% likelihood, of the defendant’s responsibility or by clear and convincing evidence, somewhere around 70%. In many cases, evidence or admissions presented in criminal court may be used in civil court. However, this does not mean that you should wait to discuss your case with, or even hire, a civil attorney. The earlier an attorney is hired, the easier it will be for him to gather information on your case. By waiting weeks or months, witnesses become harder to find, physical evidence may be lost or damaged and memories fade. Additionally, each state has a

Many states have limits on how much time you have to file a civil case.

statute of limitations establishing a certain time period after which a civil suit can no longer be filed.

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