June 22, 2020

Civil Suit vs Criminal Charges for Sexual Abuse: What’s the Difference?

Filing a claim for your abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an incredibly brave step. We understand that decision was not made lightly, and we want to make sure you have the resources to make informed decisions throughout this process.

After deciding to file a sexual abuse claim you will need to decide whether to file civil or criminal charges. Essentially, the difference between the two types of lawsuits can be broken down to the following characteristics:

  • Civil Lawsuits – Cases that protect, Implement, or fix private rights. In civil lawsuits, you or the person you choose to represent you initiates legal action against your abuser or those liable for your abuse.
  • Criminal Lawsuits – Formal chargers claiming someone has committed a crime. Criminal chargers are initiated by a government prosecutor.

Additionally, civil lawsuits and criminal lawsuits bear different weights when it comes to the “burden of proof.” The “burden of proof” is the job of a party to prove or disprove an argued statement. In this case, the “argued statement” would be your sexual abuse. Typically, criminal charges bear the heavier weight with burden of proof. This is because government prosecutors must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged abuser is guilty.

However, with civil suits the burden of proof is lower, because only you must prove what happened. You don’t have to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that the abuse occurred; you only need to present a preponderance of evidence that the abuse occurred and prove your injuries and their value to the court.

Why Choose a Civil Suit Over Criminal Charges?

Many of our clients ask why they should file civil charges for their abuse in the Mormon Church instead of criminal charges. Usually, this decision comes down to compensation. In a criminal case, if your abuser is found guilty, very rarely do you receive any sort of monetary compensation or “damages” from the conviction. In contrast, in civil lawsuits the jury can only award damages for the harm inflicted on you. They cannot convict your abuser.

While compensation cannot undo damage your abuser has caused, many survivors decide to file a civil suit to receive compensation for their injuries or to hold their abuser and affiliates accountable for the abuse. Sexual abuse victims often endure severe physical and emotional trauma from their abuse, leading to the need for counseling, therapy, and other medial treatments. Counseling is not always covered by insurance, so monetary compensation from a civil suit can help ease those financial burdens.

Where You Sexually Abused in the Mormon Church?

To see if you may be eligible to file a civil claim for your abuse in the Mormon Church, connect with our advocates today. We’re here to support you during this difficult time as you seek justice for your abuse. We understand that confronting abuse in the Church is not only frightening but overwhelming to approach; our sexual abuse attorneys are here to relieve the stress for you so you can focus on healing, not cutting through red tape.

For your free, no-obligation consultation, reach out to our sexual abuse attorneys today. We will walk you through our easy case evaluation to see if you may be eligible for compensation for your abuse. We promise that the information you share with us is kept confidential, and if you decide filing a claim is not in your best interest, you are in no obligation to our firm.

To speak with a caring representative today, reach out to us at 877.LDS.ATTY.

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