People involved with civil legal matters sometimes end up in situations that raise questions about criminal defense law. Even if a civil case seems to have no connection to anything criminal, there are times when you should still consider retaining criminal defense counsel. Consider working with a criminal law attorney in these three civil legal scenarios.
Discovery materials go into the court record and are available for use in criminal matters. If you think there might be even a smidge of criminal exposure somewhere in the discoverable evidence in a civil case, have a criminal law attorney go over it with you.
Suppose someone is facing civil fraud allegations. Those might be adjacent to criminal issues, even if a prosecutor hasn't filed charges. If the civil discovery process produces evidence that fuels criminal allegations, you could be facing more than paying damages in the civil case.
A criminal lawyer can review any disclosures to see if they might be inculpatory. If so, they may advise you to invoke your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. This has consequences in civil cases as the judge might tell the jury to assume an adverse inference of guilt. In extreme cases, a criminal law attorney may even tell the civil lawyer to settle to try to avoid the discovery process altogether.
A line of questioning in a civil case could open you up to perjury charges. While judges are reluctant to impose criminal penalties in civil cases, they do have the power. A criminal law attorney can help you try to walk the line of participating in the civil matter while also limiting your criminal exposure. They can tell you which questions to answer and how. Once more, you may need to invoke your Fifth Amendment rights in some instances.
Civil cases sometimes overlap criminal ones. For example, a person could face criminal assault charges while an alleged victim also sues them for compensation for their injuries. As you work through the civil case, you'll need to be careful to avoid statements and issues that could feed the criminal one.
Suppose a doctor is involved in a medical malpractice case. Concurrently, police could decide the death counts as a homicide. As the doctor goes through dealing with their insurer, the plaintiff, the civil court, and the governing medical board, criminal exposure can develop. Defendants should try to limit the overlap as much as legally possible.