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Suing a criminal after the crime?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by smhbbag1, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. smhbbag1

    smhbbag1 Well-Known Member

    I've never heard of this, so I'm pretty much asking for why this is not or cannot be done.

    We all know that we may be taken to civil court even if we are exonerated from criminal charges in a self-defense case.

    Might we face both? That is, face criminal charges for a self-defense case AND be sued by the 'victim' or his/her family?

    Why can the good guys not turn the tables?

    That is, if the case is ruled self-defense and not prosecuted, can we not sue the bad guy for our own pain and suffering and inconvenience and monetary costs for making us shoot him, for the house damage he caused, etc.?

    I can accept if the deck is just plain stacked against us on all sides. I'm no lawyer, obviously, and just want some enlightenment.
  2. rscalzo

    rscalzo Well-Known Member

    You can always sue.

    Getting a lawyer to take the case without a hefty retainer would be one problem. Second, does the defendant in the case have any resources? If not, you're pretty much wasting your time and money.

    Most are sued because they have some resources to tap...maninly an insurance carrier.
  3. Sebastian the Ibis

    Sebastian the Ibis Well-Known Member

    Anyone with $400.00 and a pen and paper can sue. It does not mean you will ever recover anything.

    I have thought about doing this too. As rscalzo said, the robber probably does not have any money so it is unlikely you can collect anything from him. You may want to sue him for a declaratory judgment that you do not owe him anything for shooting him. This will prevent him from ever suing you, but you may also awaken a sleeping dog who wouldn't have gone to a lawyer in the first place.

    However if the cops let the guy go, and you want to make his life miserable, a civil suit can do that. You just need to realize that you are suing him for spite, not to recover.
  4. Zoogster

    Zoogster Well-Known Member

    Your typical violent criminal has few if any resources.
    You can win a judgment and never see a dime.

    Even if the criminal justice system collects from the criminal it takes awhile for the cash to actually make it to the victim. What may be worth $xxx when you win the judgment may cost several times that by the time they actually pay it off. And they only typically pay it if its a small amount.
    If they pay you in 2030 what it cost you today, they actually end up paying you far less because of inflation.

    Your typical violent criminal gang member has children early, spends a lot of his time locked up making no money, makes illegal untraceable money in things like drug transactions or selling stolen or fenced goods, and when they do have a legal job tend to not be making much.
    This all translates into very little cash going to anyone who has a judgment against them.
    Some don't even pay child support and would rather do a short time in jail than pay a dime, after all when they spend years locked up a few days is nothing.

    If however you are a law abiding property owner with a good paying full time job you have a lot to take. Your income generates a paper trail, and you have assets that can be seized and liens can be placed on your assets even when not seized.
    30 days in jail for not making some required payments X number of times can also mean you lose your career, and so it means a lot more to you than the average criminal.

    Basically your average victim has a lot more to take in a civil suit than your average criminal.
    For the same reason a profit oriented attorney would be much less likely to take on a case against a criminal with little or no assets for a contingency fee.
    They will however happily take your money to sue anyone you want, you are just unlikely to see much return for your expenses.
  5. stchman

    stchman Well-Known Member

    You can sue anyone for any reason. Sueing someone for their eye color would be a complete waste of time and money.

    Sounds like you are wanting to recover some of the damages that a criminal did when breaking into your house. During the break in you shot the criminal for in fear of your life. Sound correct?

    Yes, if you have some property damage from a criminal breaking in yes you can sue them. Now if the criminal does not have any money it is going to be hard to get blood from a rock or so they say.

    Also consider that the state will give the criminal fines and the hospital will want its money for removing the bullets you put into him/her so money may be very scarce for the bad guy.
  6. joeyl

    joeyl Active Member

    In crook county Il. you can sue in "small claims court" yourself for a minimal filing and service cost . You can only collect for tangible losses. Theft of an item, broken door,doctors care etc. not time lost or pain etc...
    An hour or so to file and a half day off work, might be worth it. If just to show a point. I did it once against an unscrupulous music store and won. Very similar to the "peoples court" type of setup. Things were said and explained in plain English
  7. Buck Snort

    Buck Snort Well-Known Member

    Here in the PRC you can loose a small claims case and not have to pay for an extened period of time (IANAL so I'm not sure what the length of time is).
  8. MinnMooney

    MinnMooney Well-Known Member

    I sued in small claims court and won. The loser had lost many, many court cases and, evidently, has never paid on any. On the way out of the courtroom he said to me, "Wow. You won. Now try to get a nickel of it."
    I tried. I never got a nickel.
  9. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    In general, it's a waste of time, money and effort to sue someone who doesn't have any assets.
  10. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    It's what's called 'Judgment Proof'
    you can win but they never have the money to pay...
    Then you have to go after their family if you can, get really mess.
  11. bushmaster1313

    bushmaster1313 Well-Known Member

    This is how the Goldman Family busted O.J. Simpson after he beat the murder rap (beyond a reasonable doubt).

    The family got 10 million in a wrongful death action (preponderance of the evidence)
  12. KBintheSLC

    KBintheSLC Well-Known Member

    This basically sums it up.
    Unless your mugger is a Rockefeller, you are pretty much SOL on actually collecting on any judgment.
  13. Purgatory

    Purgatory Well-Known Member

    I don't have a definitive answer, but I have long been dumbfounded by the legal system in this country.

    Even Massad Ayoob (an Ex-LEO) comments on "being ram-rodded through the court system" referring to being prosecuted for otherwise honorable actions.

    I've always thought, too, that if you are accused of a crime, charged, made to pay lawyer and tried to PROVE your innocence, and WIN, then the accuser should be made to pay all your expenses.

    Of course the legal system, in waking reality, does NOT make that much sense.

    And always remember, no matter what any officer or lawyer or anyone tells you, you are ALWAYS Guilty until proven Innocent. Not the other way around, EVER.

    And if a DA decides you'd look good as an extra notch on his Victory Stick, you'll go down innocent or not.

    It's a cruel world, man, and I've often wondered, when it comes to using a gun to defend myself, if I am more afraid of the gangster thugs and criminals out there or the very legal system that was established to protect me.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2010
  14. Mossberg15

    Mossberg15 Member

    People need to stop suing people for 100 million dollars any little thing that happens to them. People just don't want to make honest living like they used too
  15. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Ordinarily there's no money in suing a street criminal. But sometimes insurance can be triggered. Which may be very important if you were injured and have large medical bills.
  16. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Classic tort cases that come up in my mind include assault, battery, trespass to chattel, conversion. Certainly you can sue a criminal, but you probably won't get much other than satisfaction.
  17. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    You'll also get a lighter wallet.
  18. RhinoDefense

    RhinoDefense Well-Known Member

    Why in the world is this country's citizens so obsessing with suing each other? It's ridiculous.
  19. tkopp

    tkopp Well-Known Member

    Going off the earlier tangent;

    When a criminal is defending themself, they can say; I wasn't there. Prove I was there. I never had a gun. Prove I had a gun. I've never shot anyone. Prove I shot someone.

    When a CCW holder is defending himself for what he considers a a righteous shooting, he's already given all that up. The prosecution doesn't have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the facts of the case, only cast aspersions on the motives.
  20. doc2rn

    doc2rn Well-Known Member

    It is a rather handy method though I sued a guy that broke into my place for the cost of replacing a door frame. $800 He was put on payments by the court; so when he failed to pay they at least put him in jail on the weekends.

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