In most shooting cases, the perpetrator will be subject to criminal charges and may face penalties such as jail time, fines, and other consequences. Although shootings are criminal actions, they can be the subject of civil claims as well.
Gunshot Criminal and Civil Cases: Results
Criminal and civil proceedings have separate intended outcomes. Through a successful criminal case, shooters are charged with a crime and are punished for their actions if found guilty. Through a successful civil case, negligent parties are identified and are required to compensate injury victims for damages.
A criminal case may end with a perpetrator serving jail time, paying fines, completing community service, or being sentenced with other consequences for their crimes. Civil claims only result in financial compensation that is meant to cover the financial and non-economic damages caused by the crime. A defendant may need to pay punitive damages — financial awards that are meant to serve as a consequence rather than compensation. However, punitive damages are not standard in civil claims.
Who is Charged for the Crime vs. Who is Liable for the Damages
Criminal charges for a shooting will almost always be directed toward the shooter. It is possible that other parties could face criminal charges, but it is not common.
Conversely, third party liability is common in civil claims. Civil court can be an opportunity for victims to achieve an alternative form of justice outside of the criminal justice system but can also be a way for other negligent parties to be held accountable.
Do Criminal Proceedings Impact Civil Claims?
A gunshot injury can be the subject of both a criminal case and a civil claim, but both of these proceedings will be treated separately.
If the perpetrator is found guilty, that can be helpful in a civil case if the shooter is the defendant in the claim. However, criminal sentencing is not a guarantee of success in a civil claim — it is entirely possible for a person to be found guilty of a shooting but not be found liable for damages in a related civil case.
Because civil claims often focus on third-party liability, the criminal proceedings may not affect the civil case at all. A verdict against a shooter will usually not impact a civil decision if the defendant is a third party.
The Pratt Clay, LLC legal team helps gunshot injury victims recover the compensation they deserve. We represent plaintiffs in civil cases involving shooting damages. If you or a loved one were shot and believe you qualify for a civil claim, contact us to discuss your case.