In the United States, the legal system addresses offenses with two different cases: criminal and civil. While there are many distinctions between these cases, many Maryland accident cases involve both criminal and civil charges. Typically, the differences involve the offenses, standard of proof, punishments and constitutional rights of those accused of an offense.
Generally, criminal cases involve crimes against society as a whole, even if the precipitating event primarily affected one person. For example, while a person may assault one individual, the law considers the assault an offense to society. As such, the state prosecutes these crimes, and the prosecutor files the case instead of the victim. In contrast, the wronged party files the case against the at-fault party in a civil case. Further, civil cases generally result in monetary compensation, whereas criminal cases may include fines in addition to incarceration.
Additionally, the civil system requires the plaintiff to establish their case by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means that it is more likely than not that the at-fault party engaged in the conduct leading to the lawsuit. Under the criminal system, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Moreover, criminal cases typically allow a jury trial, whereas a judge or jury may decide civil cases. Finally, the constitution provides a wide array of protections to defendants in the criminal system, much broader than those afforded in a civil case.
In some instances, such as those stemming from driving under the influence (DUI), the same conduct can result in civil and criminal charges. For instance, recently, a Baltimore driver has faced DUI charges after causing a fatal accident. According to reports, a 23-year-old man driving a Honda crashed into a Toyota. When officers arrived, they discovered that the Toyota driver died at the accident scene, and two of his passengers required emergency treatment. Prosecutors charged the 23-year-old with various charges, including homicide by a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Can DUI Accident Victims Sue a Drunk Driver if They Are Convicted?
Even if the criminal charges are not filed or do not result in a conviction, accident victims or their family members may pursue civil charges against a drunk driver. The different standards of proof may lead to a good civil case, even if the criminal charges do not pan out. However, it is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure your case is presented in a compelling manner.
Have YOu Suffered Injuries in a Maryland Drunk Driving Accident?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or died because of negligent or reckless conduct, contact Lebowitz & Mzhen for assistance. The personal injury lawyers at our Maryland office have extensive experience successfully representing clients in an array of civil cases. We represent clients in accident cases stemming from Maryland motor vehicle crashes, premises liability, products liability, medical malpractice, and more. Our attorneys have a thorough and in-depth understanding of the complex rules that govern these cases. We have successfully secured compensation for our clients, including damages for property loss, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Contact our office at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can recover compensation on your behalf.