It is easy to become confused about the many differences between civil and criminal charges, especially when it comes to the death of a loved one. If the death was unnecessary and could have been prevented because it was caused at the negligence of another individual (whether or not it was intentional wrongdoing), the individual will most likely face manslaughter or murder charges. Laws vary by state, however each one gives a specific outlet for the family of a wrongful death victim to obtain justice for their unjustified loss against the guilty party. Let’s talk about how criminal and civil cases differ. In a criminal case, the proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt to be deemed as evidence. This means that the jury will all need to agree that the defendant is 100 percent guilty without any doubt, and this can be an extremely difficult decision for a group of people to come to. Proof in a civil case is by preponderance of the evidence, which means that the defendant more likely than not committed the heinous act. Because each type of case differs by degree of proof, the same wrongful death case could have a very different outcome if it was put through the criminal system versus the civil.

Also, in criminal cases, charges are brought onto the defendant by the state and will lead to probation, prison time, or hefty times if the defendant is found guilty. In civil cases, private citizens argue against the defendant. The private citizen who is seeking financial compensation for the wrongful death can only be a surviving family member or dependant of the victim. If the victim and their partner were not married at the time, the partner will most likely not be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. However, if they had a child together and brought in income together, this could change. Wrongful death compensation is meant to help with any funeral costs, any income that was to be provided by the deceased, and to compensate for pain and suffering that could have been prevented. These types of compensations are specifically designed to alleviate additional stress from the victim’s loved ones.

Contact an Attorney

However, arguing a civil or criminal wrongful death case is not an easy task, and you should definitely hire an attorney such as the Wrongful Death Lawyer Miami FL locals turn to to help you through the ropes and assist you in your lawsuit.


Thanks to authors at Needle Ellenberg P.A. for their insight into Wrongful Death.