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Civil Claims for Criminal Acts

The legal system of the United States is divided into criminal cases and civil cases. It is not uncommon for certain acts to result in both criminal and civil litigation.

Sometimes, criminal and civil cases may even have different outcomes. Perhaps the most famous example of this was the O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of murder after his criminal trial but was found liable for wrongful death and ordered to pay $25 million in punitive damages to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman following his civil trial.

While a few similarities exist between the legal proceedings in each type of law, there are also many substantial differences. Every person should understand how the justice system in Pennsylvania handles these types of cases.

Civil Claims Lawyer for Criminal Acts in West Chester, PA

If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed as the result of another party’s criminal act, you could be entitled to compensation in addition to any restitution ordered by a criminal court. Ciccarelli Law Offices fights to get justice for the victims and families harmed by criminal conduct.

Our West Chester personal injury attorneys work as a team for clients in communities throughout Lancaster County, Philadelphia County, Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County, and surrounding areas of Southeastern Pennsylvania. You receive a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (610) 719-3190 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.

Overview of Civil Liability for Criminal Acts in Chester County

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Types of Civil Lawsuits in Pennsylvania

Civil actions may be brought for any one of a number of wrongful acts. When a wrongful act creates a civil legal liability, this is called a “tort.”

Most alleged criminal offenses lead to corresponding tort claims. A few examples of torts stemming from criminal acts include, but are not limited to:

  • Assault — Under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2701, simple assault may involve an alleged offender attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, negligently causing bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon, or attempting by physical menace to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Cases involving serious injury are considered aggravated assault. 
  • Conversion — A conversion is a tort for an alleged offender’s infringement on the property rights of another person. Theft, larceny, embezzlement, and unjust enrichment are some common crimes that are considered conversions.
  • False Imprisonment — Under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2903, alleged offenders who knowingly restrain other people unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with their liberty commit false imprisonment. 
  • Fraud — Victims of white collar crimes such as embezzlement, identity theft, forgery, bad checks, or other types of fraud may all have civil tort claims against the alleged offenders who deceived the victims.
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) — Alleged offenders may be liable for IIED if their conduct was extreme and outrageous, the conduct was intentional or reckless, and the conduct caused severe emotional distress. IIED is a very difficult claim to prove, but may be successful in cases involving stalking or sexual assault. 
  • Negligence — Alleged offenders generally face criminal charges for their wrongdoing, but additional parties could by civilly liable for the same acts if their negligence allowed for the crime to occur. For example, the owners of establishments may be liable for if a person’s injuries stemmed from a lack of security or negligent hiring.
  • Wrongful Death — Certain family members can file wrongful death claims against alleged offenders whose murder, manslaughter, or vehicular homicide charges resulted in the deaths of their loved ones.

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Differences Between Criminal Cases and Civil Lawsuits

Alleged offenders in criminal cases are afforded numerous rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution, including the right against unreasonable searches and seizures guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment, the right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, and the right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment.

Plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases are not afforded any of these rights. Some of the other major differences between criminal and civil law include:


Criminal Cases

Civil Lawsuits

Type of Wrongdoing

Violation of local, state, or federal law.

Harm to a private person or group of people.

Standard of Proof

The defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defendant must be proven liable by a preponderance of the evidence.


The alleged offender is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

No presumptions are made about the plaintiffs or the defendants.

Role of Victim

The victim may be asked to be a witness, but control over the case—including plea agreements—rests solely with the prosecutor.

The victim has access to all information about the case and has control over all decisions that are made during the case, including any proposed settlements.

Legal Representation

Alleged offenders have the right to an attorney, and if they cannot afford one, the state will provide an attorney for them.

Defendants have the right to an attorney, but must defend themselves if they cannot afford one as the state will not appoint a lawyer.


The alleged offender becomes accountable to the state through a sentence that can involve prison, fines, probation, or other remedies. The defendant may also be ordered to pay restitution to victims or their families.

Defendants are liable to the victims for economic, noneconomic, and/or punitive damages.

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Pennsylvania Resources for Civil Claims

County Court of Common Pleas | Chester County, PA — Major civil cases in Pennsylvania are heard in Courts of Common Pleas. The Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in West Chester is a general jurisdiction trial court that handles most civil cases in the county. On this website, you can find tips for filing civil claims in Chester County, download civil cover sheets, and learn more about the judges of this court.

Chester County Courthouse
201 West Market Street
West Chester, PA 19380
(610) 344-6000

Pennsylvania Crime Victim Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP) — VCAP helps the victims, dependants, family members, interveners of crimes, and any other parties who assume financial burdens because of crimes obtain compensation. VCAP can reimburse for medical expenses, lost wages, counseling, travel costs, and other costs. On this website, you can learn more about how to be compensated, find a link to the Dependable Access for Victims’ Expenses (DAVE), and review the Victims Compensation Assistance Program Manual.

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Find a Civil Lawyer for Criminal Cases in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Did you sustain severe injuries or was your loved one killed as the result of another party’s criminal conduct? It is in your best interest to seek legal counsel for help determining whether you could be entitled to compensation for financial harm you have also suffered.

Ciccarelli Law Offices represents clients all over Southeastern Pennsylvania and has office locations in King of Prussia, Philadelphia, Springfield, Plymouth Meeting, Radnor, West Chester, Kennett Square, and Lancaster. Call (610) 719-3190 or submit an online form to set up a free consultation that will let our West Chester personal injury attorneys review your case.

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