What Are the Differences Between Criminal Charges vs. a Civil Lawsuit?

When you are arrested on criminal charges, the criminal justice system has jurisdiction over your case from its beginning to its conclusion. However, if someone was harmed while you were allegedly driving while intoxicated and that individual files a lawsuit against you, this claim will not be handled by the criminal justice system. This process will progress through the civil justice system. As a result, you could be navigating two cases either simultaneously or one filed after the other has concluded: one in which you’ll need to defend against criminal prosecution and one in which you’ll need to defend against allegations that you’ve wronged someone in a civil context.

If you’re convicted of criminal wrongdoing, this infraction will be reflected on your criminal record. By contrast, if you lose a civil case, that turn of events won’t be reflected on your criminal record. If you’re convicted of a DWI offense in criminal court, you could face fines, jail time, probation, mandatory rehabilitation service participation, suspension or loss of your driver’s license, and a host of other consequences. However, losing a civil case will likely “only” result in you owing compensation to the party that was harmed. With that said, civil judgments can be expensive, so you shouldn’t treat a civil lawsuit as a mere nuisance. Famously, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend during an infamous criminal trial in the 1990s. However, after he was acquitted, a civil jury found him liable for their deaths and ordered him to pay their families $33.5 million in restitution. There are different burdens of proof and standards of evidence used in a civil context, so it may be harder to defend against a civil case than it is to defend against a criminal case. This is one of the many reasons why you should speak with a Salt Lake City, UT DWI lawyer if you’ve been charged in a criminal context and/or served with a personal injury lawsuit. The experienced Utah team at Rasmussen & Miner practices both criminal defense law and personal injury law, so we know how to handle all aspects of your legal needs at this time.

What Steps Do I Need to Take Now?

If you haven’t already reached out to our firm, please do so now. The quicker we’re alerted to your situation, the more quickly we can begin protecting your rights in both criminal and civil contexts. Until you speak with an attorney, take care not to speak with others. You have a right to have counsel present before you answer questions if you’ve been arrested. But even if you aren’t facing criminal charges, you’ll want to be careful how you conduct yourself in the event that a civil lawsuit may be filed against you. Opposing counsel may seek to use emails, texts, and even social media posts against you. Connect with us now so that we can begin strategizing on your behalf. We will do our best to build the strongest possible case(s) in an effort to protect your rights.

What if the accident wasn’t my fault?

It is entirely possible that the accident was not due to anything you had done wrong. It may seem as though you are guilty since you were arrested for a DWI, but this does not mean you are automatically at-fault. The other driver may have been speeding through a red light, changing lanes without looking properly, or broken another driving rule when the crash happened. In the stress of the moment, you may try to alleviate the situation by apologizing or even admitting fault while at the scene. Making statements like this could have a negative impact on your case, when perhaps you were not actually responsible for the wreck unfolding at all.

How can a Salt Lake City DWI lawyer help me with my DWI charge and injury lawsuit?

Those who are dealing with very serious allegations should meet with an DWI lawyer in Salt Lake City UT about what to do next. Being faced with a DWI charge means that the driver may lose his or her license, have to pay steep fines, and have a mark on record for many years to come. An DWI lawyer in Salt Lake City UT that is familiar with defense cases can offer strategy, legal wisdom, and representation during your lawsuit. Trying to battle both a DWI charge and injury lawsuit may be too much for one person to bear alone. Know that the experienced team at Rasmussen & Miner is here to help.