GUILTY OF A CRIME – ADMISSIBILITY IN A CIVIL CASE
An adverse party cited or charged with a crime, which resulted in personal injury claims for damages, can result in determining an important element of the civil case. Generally, a defendant in a criminal matter may plead guilty or no contest, as opposed to denying the charges. Guilty and no contest pleas can be admissible in subsequent civil proceedings as an admission of the crime and as proof of liability in the civil case.
A no contest plea is generally not an admission of guilt, but a statement to the Court that one is not contesting the criminal charges, but allowing the Court to proceed (sentence) based on the plea. A “no contest plea” in a misdemeanor matter typically is not admissible to prove liability in a civil case. A “no contest” plea in a felony matter, or a matter that allows for imposition of a felony sentence, has the same effect as a guilty plea in the subsequent civil proceeding, i.e. – an admission of liability.
A plea of guilty or a criminal conviction in any criminal proceeding is admissible in a civil case to prove any essential fact in dealing with the ultimate issue of liability/fault for the act producing injury.
Keep our office in mind if you have a possible or pending civil matter following a criminal event – – i.e driving under the influence, hit and run, or other matter. Our attorneys are available to consult on these and all injury related matters.