Can you be sued for damages in civil court for alleged criminal conduct if the criminal case has not yet been concluded?

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Can you be sued for damages in civil court for alleged criminal conduct if the criminal case has not yet been concluded?

My brother, a friend and I were accused of assaulting a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. We are currently in the process of of our criminal case (which we will probably be winning). We are appearing in court in a month from now, but even though the case has not yet been closed, we have recently received a letter form their lawyer wherein it states that we are being sued for 1.4m. In short, it has become clear that my brother and I were not involved and that the friend was the person that did the assaulting. How can they sue us when the criminal case has not been resolved yet? If we are found not guilty, what are the chances of them being able to get any money out of us? BTW we are both students.

Asked on June 19, 2014 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Assault and battery are both civil (lawsuit) and criminal.  The criminal case and civil case are separate matters and proceed independently.  You can be sued in the civil case even though the criminal case has not concluded.

The standard of proof in a civil case is a preponderance of the evidence which means more likely than not.  This is a lesser standard of proof than in a criminal case which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Therefore, it is possible that you could be acquitted in the criminal case but still found liable in the civil case where the required standard of proof is less.


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