Many drivers are very familiar with the civil court resolution for injuries and property damage. But, when it comes to additional charges, there is a lot of confusion about where one court ends, and another begins. A criminal case for a car accident isn’t something that most people go through in their life, and while they have an open civil case, it can be even more difficult to process.
Car accidents can and often will lead to both open criminal and civil cases. These cases can both be open while the injured victim also has an outstanding insurance claim that may result in another civil case. The court system is not so confusing if you break it down into smaller parts.
Difference Between the Criminal and Civil Courts
In the United States, there are two court systems. Those court systems handle civil and criminal cases separately, although there are many times when two or more open cases coincide. Although it would seem like it’s easiest to have them fall in line together with the same rules and expectations, there are stark differences.
The civil court system is what most people will encounter either through pressing charges, facing charges or as a juror. A civil case can include anything from financial loss or wrongful death cases. There’s often a loss or wrongful action against one person from the accused. The accusation is put in by the plaintiff, or the person who feels wronged. There is often no police involvement, or the police operate in a very small capacity.
In the civil courts, both parties can choose to have attorneys. It’s often best to act with a lawyer regardless of the level of the charges. For example, an Atlanta, GA car crash attorney can better explain the full impact of a wreck than someone who is expressing their feelings and is emotional. Finally, civil courts do not rely on the “beyond a reasonable doubt” determiner of guilt that people see on TV. In fact, in civil cases, it’s more about the opportunity, did the defendant “more likely than not” commit the actions they are accused of from the plaintiff?
The criminal court, however, is very different. First, a jury will decide guilt or innocence, or the defendant may plead guilty. Then, there is the factor of proving the guilt beyond any doubt within a reasonable scope. Finally, there is the issue of needing an attorney.
Criminal cases do not happen without attorneys unless the defendant argues fervently that they don’t need one and would like to represent themselves. That is often a terrible idea unless the person has extensive legal experience.
Victims in criminal cases don’t need an attorney at all. They may be present, they may be part of the investigation, and may have to testify. But, they have little say in how the case proceeds.
In theory, nearly every car accident could result in a criminal charge because someone involved likely broke state laws. However, traffic laws are rarely handled the same way as an assault case. Criminal activity can include speeding, acting negligently with purpose, drunk driving, and more.
For example, someone purposefully driving through a school zone at 50 miles-per-hour while children are entering and leaving the school will likely result in criminal charges. Traffic tickets issued during a car accident do count as cranial activity and result in criminal procedure but not always criminal charges.
The most common factors that result in criminal charges for car accidents include vehicular homicide, drunk driving, and extreme cases of negligence and carelessness. The victims in these cases may not have any role to play in criminal charges. Or, they could be called as a witness. In any case, you should expect in the least to cooperate with any open investigation and comply with all court requests.
Are You Dealing With a Criminal Case for a Car Accident?
An Atlanta car accident attorney should be prepared to guide your case through the civil aspects of the resolution. That means you make your claim, work through the insurance companies involved, and then take action against the driver if necessary. But, criminal cases can impact these civil claims.
When working with a crash that has a tied criminal investigation or case, it may take longer to resolve, and it may be more difficult to get a fast resolution. These are common issues that you can go to The Weinstein Firm for help in handling. The Weinstein Firm represents victims throughout the Atlanta region regardless of whether the crash has criminal ties or not. Call our office today for a free case review.