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When a criminal and civil case happen at the same time

This week, we have been discussing the two different kinds of cases that can be filed under our legal system: criminal cases and civil cases.

In our last post, we explained the main differences between the two types of cases, and we also stated that it is possible for a defendant to face both types of lawsuits for the same act.

Because of the differences between the two types of cases, it is also possible for a defendant to be found not guilty in a criminal case, but liable for damages in a civil case. 

A famous example of this is the O.J. Simpson murder trial. As you probably remember, Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife in the criminal trial, but was then held liable for his ex-wife’s death in the civil wrongful death trial.

That outcome was reached, in part, because of the different standards of proof in the two cases. The criminal jury found that there was not enough evidence to convict Simpson “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but the civil jury found enough reason to rule against Simpson based on a “preponderance of the evidence.”

To tie all of our posts from this week together, let’s bring it back to Monday’s discussion on how Olympian and former Kardashian patriarch Bruce Jenner likely won’t face criminal charges for his role in a fatal motor vehicle accident earlier this month.

It would likely be difficult for prosecutors to prove that Jenner was negligent “beyond a reasonable doubt” without evidence such as cellphone data showing that he had been texting or talking at the time of the crash. However, a civil wrongful death claim against him is likely, as it would only have to be “more likely than not” that his negligence contributed to the wreck.

But, if there was evidence such as the cellphone data available, Jenner could face both a criminal and civil lawsuit at the same time, as countless other drivers have in the past, especially after fatal drunk driving accidents.

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