It is only right that a person who is a victim of a criminal act would want to be compensated for the hassle they were put through. Be it money being owed and not paid, damage to property, reputational damage or any other criminal act, there are things you should know before you decide to take a person to court and get involved in the long process of the law.
Before we continue, it is important that we make the distinction between criminal cases and civil cases. Civil cases are concerned with resolving disputes between two or more parties, where one of the parties (the victim) has been caused injury of some sort (financial, reputational). Criminal cases involve more immediately threatening claims, where the aggressor causes some offense against the victim, such as assault, battery or murder. Here we are discussing the latter; however, much of the wisdom we are about to impart can be applied to both criminal and civil cases, so it is still worth the read.
1. Cases Take Time
Many cases aren’t necessarily black and white as they may seem, and things get murkier when there is the possibility of sending a human life to prison for a while. For this reason, you’ll find that criminal cases often take time, unlike what you might see on a 40-minute episode of Law & Order. Time is needed to collect and verify evidence in order to build a case that is strong enough not to have holes poked in it, whether it is for defense or for prosecution. If you think that your justice will be served in a matter of hours, you might want to rethink your expectations.
2. Attorneys Cost Money
In a similar vein, lawyers cost money. And the better they are, the more expensive their services will be. You’ll want a good lawyer by your side if you want to win a criminal case, especially because of the double jeopardy law. If you’re unfamiliar with this law, it basically states that you cannot be charged for the same offense more than once. So if you are a victim of a criminal action, and the defendant gets away with it one time, that’s it. He can’t be charged again for the same crime.
On the other hand, victims who cannot afford a lawyer will automatically be assigned one, so it’s not all doom and gloom. This is true even outside the United States. With just a little bit of research, you will be able to find lawyers that will be willing to be take on pro-bono cases. The nature of the case can also make a difference to the lawyer’s cost. So depending on what the case is and what the damages are, the services provided along with the costs will differ.
3. You Need Evidence
Duh. But the reason we’re mentioning this is because it can sometimes be very difficult to acquire proper evidence to be prosecute someone. And sometimes, your key piece of evidence can be deemed inadmissible in court, causing your entire case to crumble down. When you’re filing for a case, you need to document everything and realize that everything could potentially be used as evidence. People often forget about this when it comes to filing a criminal case. This will be especially important when it comes to legal recourse, for example, Dairn Shane from PreszlerLawBC.com says that Ontario law provides legal recourse to the family members of a person killed by another’s wrongful act. This is provided that all the correct evidence is given and is sufficient, of course.
4. Nothing is Guaranteed
Unless the crime that’s been committed against you was recorded on a mic’d up 4K camera with the aggressor’s face in full view, it can be difficult to guarantee a win when it comes to a case. As we mentioned, evidence may not always be admissible in court, and even if it is, it’s not always going to sway the jury in your favor. You may be pitted against a ridiculously good defense attorney who manages to cast even the tiniest shadow of doubt in the minds of the jury. The point is, nothing is for sure.
Looking at the four aforementioned points, it seems easy to understand why many people are reluctant to go to court, even when they have clearly been wronged. It can be expensive, very time-consuming and ultimately very stressful.
On the other hand, the court is the only legal way you can get compensation when you have truly been victimized, and despite our previous warning, usually makes sure that people are punished when they should be. If you have truly been wronged and are a victim of a criminal case, you should absolutely press charges or at least go to the police and explore your options there. Of course, you’re free to perform more research and dig deeper into cases and statistics if you are unsure whether to file a criminal case. In fact, you’re encouraged to do so. Talk to lawyers and law enforcement officers, for they can also be an invaluable asset in a situation like this.