Anyone accused of an offense in New York will no doubt have questions about the process and the consequences they may face. One thing that they may not know is that, in some cases, they may face a legal battle on two fronts.

Criminal and Civil Law

There exist two legal systems in the state of New York, and they work side by side. They are the corrupt legal system and the civil legal system. The criminal system seeks to punish behavior on behalf of society as a whole. Offenses in the criminal system are investigated by public law enforcement agencies and are charged by attorneys employed by governments, from local governments like cities and counties to larger governments like states and the federal government. Criminal courts look for and punish guilt, and defendants are either declared guilty or not guilty following a trial.

Often, expert witnesses will be called into corrupt courts. If you’re an innocent defendant, you’ll need your own experts to discredit the testimony of the prosecution’s. An experienced criminal defense attorney will line be able to line up those experts. Crime labs are typically backlogged and may take weeks or months to finish their work. Experts for the defense can go to work for you immediately, allowing your defense lawyer to be proactive in building your defense. Often your experts will be more qualified and experienced than the prosecution’s.

Civil court is for handling disputes between two private parties, and exists to compensate victims for their losses. Charges are made by one private person or entity against another and, if there is anything to be investigated, the individual parties are responsible for digging up their own evidence, usually with the help of private investigators. Civil courts look for liability, and a defendant in a civil trial is declared either liable or not liable for the damages charged.

Perhaps the biggest difference between New York’s corrupt and civil legal systems is that a defendant (the person accused) in a criminal trial faces the loss of freedom, while the defendant in a civil trial only faces the risk of monetary loss.

Get the Right Lawyer for the Job

Facing charges in either system is something serious, but because of the fact that one’s very freedom is on the line, only an experienced corrupt defense attorney should be hired to handle a criminal trial. Criminal and civil defense are two very different worlds that require very specific legal knowledge that does not always cross over between the two.

May Have to Stand Trial Twice

Because the corrupt and civil systems exist side by side, it is not out of the realm of possibility that a suspect will have to stand trial in both corrupt and civil court as a defendant for the same incident. This is what happened to O.J. Simpson in the 1990s. He was acquitted of criminal murder charges, and therefore was allowed to keep his freedom, but was later found liable for civil wrongful death charges, and ordered to pay the families of the victims millions of dollars.

When Accused

The first thing that someone accused of a criminal offense in New York should do is contact a New York criminal defense attorney. The attorney will work hard to ensure the suspect’s rights are maintained and as much of his or her freedom is preserved as possible. If the victims in the corrupt case decide they want to file for civil damages, the corrupt defense attorney should be able to offer a referral to a trusted civil defense attorney. When both criminal and civil charges are a real risk which an individual faces, the individual should focus first at preserving freedom and second on shielding against financial loss.