Criminal vs. Civil Action
Most people only think of sex abuse as a criminal and not a civil action. This is because Sex abuse is a major crime that Texas prosecutes aggressively. Many people don't realize that victims of sex abuse also have a civil remedy. While criminal cases are designed to put the perpetrator behind bars and deter future crimes, civil cases are designed to allow victims to be compensated for all the wrong that has been done to them. Criminal cases may allow some fines to be paid by a defendant, but do not allow compensation in most cases to the victim or the victim's family.
A civil case may be persued even if a defendant is not ultimately convicted in a criminal case. This is because the standard of proof in a civil case is lower than in a criminal case.
A plaintiff in a civil case will have more of a role than in a criminal case. A criminal case is brought by the state and the state is in control of what happens with the case. In some situations the state will consult a victim in a criminal case before any kind of plea arrangement is reached but the victim generally has little to no say in what outcome is reached. In a civil case victims are allowed a more active role in the process.
In a civil case, the victim can receive monetary damages from physical and emotional harm they suffered and will continue to suffer. In many cases juries award large amounts of money for these type of intangible damages.
In short criminal prosecution of sex abuse is pursued based on community goals of preventing future crimes and punishment of those perpetrators, civil action is pursued based on personal goals of taking care of the victim for the past suffering they experienced and future suffering they will experience.
If you or a loved one have experienced sex abuse and have questions on the possibility of pursuing a civil action, please do not hesitate to call and have your questions answered. The Law Offices of Tom Hall have helped many child and adult victims of sexual abuse over the years get compensated for their suffering and will do all we can to help you as well.