Are Sexual Harassment Cases Only Civil, Or Criminal As Well?
Any harassing conduct may have criminal implications. In most cases, unless there is violence, the police are not going to get involved. Once the police find out that the victim has a civil lawyer, they are likely to decide not to prosecute non-violent cases.
The good news for the victim is that the burden of proof is much lower in a civil case than in a criminal case. We don’t have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the act took place. All we have to prove is that the claim is more likely true than not true. The police often recognize that and step aside. If there is a pending criminal case, you do not have to wait for the criminal prosecution to take place.
In the criminal context, the accused has a presumption of innocence and they have the right to be free from making any incriminating statements. If the criminal case is proceeding and we decide to file a civil case, we have the right to get information out of the harasser. We are going to send over questions that the harasser has to answer, under oath. Now, the criminal defendant is also a civil defendant, who we are suing for sexual harassment.
That defendant has to make a choice. Do they waive their privilege against self-incrimination, thereby jeopardizing their criminal case, because they need to respond to the allegations in the civil case? Or do they assert their privilege in a civil case, thereby protecting themselves from the criminal case? If they assert their privilege in the civil case, they don’t have the right to ever talk about any defense that they may have, such as consent. It is a double-edged sword whenever there is a criminal case pending with a civil case. When you see these hybrid cases it is almost certain the harasser’s civil lawyer is going to want to stop the civil case while the criminal case is pending.
The civil lawyer is going to want the criminal case to go forward because if there is a conviction, then that conviction makes the civil case much easier, if it’s a felony. If it’s a felony, all the elements of a criminal case are admitted, basically proving a civil case, which leads to an early settlement. However, if it’s a misdemeanor, you can’t use the conviction in any capacity for proving the allegations in a civil case.
For more information on Criminal & Civil Nature Of Sexual Harassment, a free case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (909) 833-8999 today.