If your loved one was neglected or abused, you should contact the authorities for help. Once you do this, several events can be set in motion. If the police can prove that neglect or abuse occurred, the abuser will face criminal charges. If you and your family can prove neglect or abuse, the abuser will face civil charges. The criminal and the civil case will differ in many significant ways. You might want to file a lawsuit against the abuser to get compensation and justice. If this is the case, it is important to understand both types of charges.
The Criminal Case
If neglect or abuse occurred, the police will attempt to prosecute the at fault party. This will happen even if you don’t press civil charges. This is because neglect and abuse are crimes in the United States. If there is enough evidence that neglect or abuse took place, the at fault party faces arrest. Some common crimes that the at fault party might get charged with include:
- Assault on an elderly person.
- Reckless endangerment.
- Crime of omission.
- Financial exploitation.
Once charged, the at fault party becomes a defendant in a criminal case. They will generally appear at a bail hearing in which a judge can set or deny bail. If bail is granted, it is usually under certain conditions. One common condition is that the defendant does not have contact with their victim(s). If this is the case, and the defendant contacts your loved one, you should seek help immediately.
Whether bail is granted or denied, the defendant must to return to court for trial. During the trial, the defense wants to convince a judge or jury of the defendant’s innocence. They will do this through the use of evidence. The prosecution will try to convince the judge or jury of the defendant’s guilt with evidence of its own. As a victim of neglect or abuse, your loved one may need to testify during the trial. If this is the case, you should work with the prosecution to provide testimony and evidence.
If found guilty, the defendant faces criminal consequences of the crime(s) charged with. These consequences oftentimes include:
- Jail or prison time.
- Community service.
- Rehabilitative programs.
The Civil Case
As a victim of neglect or abuse, your loved one has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the statute of limitations hasn’t passed, the at fault party can face civil charges. In the state of Connecticut, the statute of limitations varies. If death occurred, it starts after two years from the date of death. If an injury occurred, it happens five years from the date of abuse. You and your loved one do not have to file a civil lawsuit, and this case will be distinct from a criminal case.
You might have interest in a civil lawsuit to get compensation for your loved one. If found guilty of neglect or abuse in a civil case, the at fault party won’t jail time or probation. Instead, their punishment is to provide compensation to the victim for pain and suffering. So, if you or your loved one need money to help pay for thing related to the abuse, consider filing a civil case.
In a civil lawsuit, you have to prove that the defendant had a duty to care toward your loved one. You also have to prove that they breached this duty, either on purpose or through negligence. The defendant will attempt to gather evidence to refute your claims. You and the defendant may settle the case before it goes to trial. If this happens, you will compromise on the compensation owed. Or, the case may go to trial and a judge may decide the outcome of the situation.
It is important to remember that the criminal case and the civil case are independent of one another. The at fault party may be found innocent of criminal charges, but still be found guilty in the civil case, or the other way around. If you want to pursue a civil case against the at fault party, contact a lawyer.