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Civil Vs. Criminal Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one due to the negligence or misconduct of another is a devastating experience that can leave families grappling with grief and seeking justice. In such cases, it’s essential to understand the legal avenues available for recourse and accountability. When it comes to wrongful death, the legal process typically involves either civil or criminal proceedings, each serving distinct purposes and outcomes.

Seeking Compensation And Accountability

In civil cases of wrongful death, the primary objective is to seek compensation for the losses suffered as a result of the deceased’s death. These losses can include medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of financial support, and the emotional pain and suffering endured by the surviving family members. Unlike criminal cases, where the state prosecutes the defendant, civil cases are brought forth by the surviving family members or the estate of the deceased.

A lawyer, like a wrongful death lawyer, can attest that civil cases involve a lower burden of proof than criminal cases. In civil proceedings, the plaintiff (the party bringing the lawsuit) must establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it is more likely than not that the defendant’s actions or negligence caused the death. This standard of proof is less demanding than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases.

If liability is established, the court may award monetary damages to the plaintiff as compensation for their losses. These damages aim to provide financial support and alleviate the economic hardships resulting from the wrongful death.

Pursuing Justice And Accountability

In contrast, criminal cases for wrongful death are initiated by the state or federal government, with the aim of punishing the defendant for their actions and upholding the principles of justice and public safety. Prosecutors bring criminal charges against the defendant, alleging that they committed a crime (such as manslaughter or murder) that led to the death of another person.

Attorneys emphasize that criminal cases involve a higher burden of proof than civil cases. The prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, demonstrating to the jury or judge that the defendant’s actions were intentional, reckless, or criminally negligent and directly caused the death.

If the defendant is found guilty, they may face severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines, probation, or community service. Unlike civil cases, where the focus is on compensating the victims, criminal cases focus on holding the defendant accountable for their actions and deterring similar conduct in the future.

Navigating The Legal Process With Compassion And Expertise

Navigating the legal process following a wrongful death can be overwhelming, but understanding the differences between civil and criminal cases is crucial for seeking justice and accountability. While civil cases focus on compensation for the victims’ losses, criminal cases aim to punish the wrongdoer and uphold societal values of morality and safety.

Our friends at Wandres Law, PC are dedicated to providing compassionate support and expert legal guidance to families affected by wrongful death. Whether pursuing civil litigation or navigating criminal proceedings, their team is committed to advocating for their clients’ rights and seeking the justice they deserve. Schedule a consultation with your trusted attorney today.