Civil Litigation in Virginia

Civil Remedies for Victims of Crimes

Crime news stories rarely tell us much about the victims, unfortunately. We are more likely to hear more about who was charged with committing the crimes.

 

Sometimes we learn all sorts of information about how they were arrested, like what agencies were involved or how the bust came together, especially if anything unusual happened and if the bad guys are safely off the street.

As a criminal case proceeds, we may hear why the crime was committed or the scope of a suspected criminal enterprise. This can be great info for selling papers or getting viewers to check out a news program, but it ultimately gives more attention to the criminals rather than the people who were directly affected and their families.

Increases in Violent Crime

Based on data from the FBI, violent crime is on the rise, especially in larger cities. Which means the number of victims is also rising.

The bureau’s “Crime Clock,” published in 2010, showed that a violent crime takes place somewhere in the United States every 25.3 seconds. A property crime takes place every 3.5 seconds.

More recent figures from the Major Cities Chiefs Association shows that nationwide violent crime rose from 2015 to 2016, including 600 more murders, 1,298 more rapes and 2,362 more robberies. Though Washington, D.C. saw slightly lower numbers than its historic highs a decade ago, Fairfax County saw increases in all of these areas.

Securing Criminal Convictions

Of those who were actually convicted, some may have pleaded guilty to lesser charges to avoid a public trial or lengthy jail time. Or, prosecutors may not even be able to prove cases if circumstances were confusing or evidence was weak. Legal technicalities also may result in cases being dismissed – this is how the system is supposed to work but certainly can be disappointing to those seeking justice.

If you or a family member are victims of a crime and aren’t satisfied with the legal outcome – or are facing extensive medical bills or other costs as a result of a crime committed by another — the law offices of Olmstead and Olmstead can help.

Our Virginia law firm has a strong record of receiving civil relief for people who are victims of crime, and we are familiar with many legal avenues to seek adequate compensation – especially in cases where someone may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Different standards

In criminal cases, a 6- or 12-person jury must unanimously find “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the suspect committed the crime he or she was charged with. It’s a difficult bar to meet, but is designed this way to make sure a case is rock-solid and people’s rights are protected.

In a civil suit, the standard is lowered to “a preponderance of the evidence,” which means it’s more than likely that the accused is liable for any injuries a victim sustained as result of a crime. If a jury or judge finds that this burden is legally met, the accused won’t face jail time, but will be financially responsible for paying the victim or victims certain costs.

For people unfamiliar with differences between civil vs. criminal decisions, a memorable example was pro football player O.J. Simpson, who was found not guilty of two murder charges after an extensive trial. Following the case, family members of his victims successfully sued him for civil damages, which meant he was required to pay a significant amount of money.

Victims have a variety of rights under Virginia law, including the ability to file civil suits against a person or a responsible party. This is what allows victims of childhood abuse to seek damages even if too much time has passed to file criminal charges.

An experienced Virginia law firm can help victims or their families seek compensation for:

  • Direct medical costs
  • Repairing damaged property
  • Future medical costs, such as surgery or therapy
  • Future lost earnings (such as what a murder victim could earn if they were still alive)
  • Court costs and other legal expenses

 

The skilled and compassionate Virginia civil law attorneys at Olmstead & Olmstead can also seek additional costs on your behalf which will send a message to a perpetrator that their actions caused significant harm. Requests for larger damages can also serve as a deterrent to others in a community or industry.

Victims who want to explore other avenues of seeking justice are encouraged to discuss their situation with Olmstead and Olmstead, P.C.  We operate on a contingency basis only for these types of cases, which means we only get paid if you collect damages.

Please contact us for a consultation by using our online contact form or by calling (703) 361-1555.

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