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Crime victims can pursue civil remedies, even if the perpetrator is not convicted in criminal court. A lawsuit helps victims recover the costs they incurred.

Criminal activity often results in a person experiencing financial and emotional costs. The underlying crime usually includes property damage or physical injury. There are medical bills, lost wages, vehicle or home repairs, and more.

The personal injury team at Mitchell & West LLC helps crime victims receive compensation from those who injured them. Florida statute limits the timeframe in which a lawsuit can be filed to four years from the date of the injury/damage.

Restitution in Florida

When injury or damage is incurred as the result of a crime, Florida judges have the authority to order the convicted defendant to pay restitution. This compensation usually comes in the form of monthly payments and wage garnishments. Restitution can also be ordered as a condition of probation.

Judges commonly order restitution when a defendant is convicted of a violent crime such as sexual battery, aggravated assault, and murder. Convictions of white-collar crimes such as fraud also commonly require restitution.

Damages available through restitution include the following (economic damages):

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Damages or Stolen Property
  • Funeral Expenses

Crime victims of non-domestic violence cases are asked to complete a Victim Impact Statement, which includes an itemized accounting of any expenses related to the crime.

Costs Recovered through Civil Litigation

Restitution, if ordered, typically does not cover all costs of the crime. Costs not connected to specific dollar amounts through receipts or invoices are typically left out.

Significant damages are not covered in a restitution order (non-economic damages):

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Physical Impairment or Disfigurement
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of Enjoyment
  • Loss of Companionship

These costs are generally only recoverable in a personal injury lawsuit.

A civil lawsuit can be filed with a request for a stay – essentially putting the civil case on hold until the criminal case is resolved. When a defendant simultaneously faces criminal charges and a lawsuit, they may apply legal maneuvers to avoid answering questions during the civil suit’s discovery process.

This can be avoided by letting the criminal case conclude first. Information uncovered in a criminal trial can also be used in civil cases.

Lawsuits Do Not Rely on a Criminal Conviction

If your injuries or property damage is caused by someone else’s negligence, you have the right to pursue compensation regardless of whether the case goes to trial, or the defendant is convicted. If no restitution is ordered in a criminal trial, you can fight for both economic and non-economic damages.

Civil trials have a lower evidentiary standard. A plaintiff must prove their case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” In simpler terms, that means that “more than likely” the claims are true – a certainty greater than 50%. A criminal trial requires the State to provide its case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means there is no other reasonable explanation for the evidence presented in court.

Pursue Criminal Accountability in Civil Court

If you have personal and financial costs resulting from a crime or other wrongdoing, do not assume a criminal court will provide restitution to make you whole again. Restitution is possible – but limited – on a criminal conviction. If the defendant is found not guilty or the case never makes it to trial, a criminal court judge will not order any amount of restitution.

A crime or other transgression can leave the victim emotionally and financially broken. Understand your victim’s rights by scheduling a consultation with Mitchell & West LLC. Reach us online or call (305) 783-3301.