There are two types of law a crime can get categorized under within the United States. Actions can be criminal offenses or civil offenses. There is a difference in how the prosecution and defenses of these offenses occur.
Criminal crimes are those that violate federal or state statutes, while a civil offense deals with administrative violations or disputes between organizations, individuals or a combination of both. In some situations, a situation with a civil offense could also include criminal issues.
One situation with several concerns
Though separate issues, it is possible that a person can both commit legal wrongdoing against an individual at the same time a violation of the law occurs. For example, an individual who is driving while intoxicated could cause an accident that severely injures passengers in the car and causes the death of another motorist. Driving under the influence is a criminal offense and can carry the charge of vehicular homicide or manslaughter. However, the family of the deceased may also bring a civil suit against the intoxicated driver for damages and compensation.
Possible complications of pending cases
Self-incrimination is a serious complication that can jeopardize either outcome. Often, a criminal case will take priority over a civil matter when the same underlying facts and situation make up the arguments for both cases. In many cases, a defendant’s lawyer will seek a stay or continuance of the civil case to give more time for the criminal defense.
When facing both a criminal and civil case, there are concerns with both timing and self-incrimination. However, some of the civil issues may find resolution through criminal litigation.