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California Civil Compromise

What is Civil Compromise in California?

A civil compromise is a method for which those charged with misdemeanors can potentially have their cases dismissed. Common crimes that are most often compromised include theft and assault.

When a person is charged with a crime against another, such as a hit and run, a criminal case is started against them by the government. Additionally, the victim of the crime may also initiate proceedings against the alleged perpetrator in civil court. The victim’s case has nothing to do with the charges in criminal court, but the victim does have the right to sue in civil court if they choose to do so. If the victim does not initiate any proceedings in civil court, no civil charges will be brought against the person who allegedly committed the crime. Similarly, the government is who chooses when a case is filed in criminal court, not the victim.

Example of Civil Compromise

Let’s look at an example of a case that could involve civil compromise. Dan hits Veronica’s car and then takes off without informing her. Dan is arrested and charged with a hit and run. Criminal proceedings are initiated against Dan and he is ordered to appear in court. Dan feels bad about what he did, so he offers to pay Veronica for all the damage he caused. He compensates her for all the costs she incurred from his mistake of hitting her and running. Because Veronica chooses not to file any claims against Dan after being compensated, Dan is free and clear from any civil court proceedings. The government prosecutors, however, choose to continue pursuing their charges of hit and run with Dan.

When there is a criminal case, such as the one described above, the victim of the alleged crime may choose to sign a civil compromise. A civil compromise informs the criminal court that the victim was fully reimbursed and chooses to release the person who caused the damages from any further liability. When a civil compromise is signed and presented to the criminal judge, the criminal court case is often dismissed.

Understanding the Rules of Civil Compromise

The civil compromise must be properly filed with the court and the victim must have been fully reimbursed. Many times the judge in criminal court will ask the victim to testify that they he/she has dropped any charges, or does not wish to pursue any additional charges. If the victim cannot be present in court, the judge may ask for a signed declaration stating the same information. If it is a first time offense for the person charged with the crime, and there are no pending charges of any other kind, the judge will likely dismiss the charges.

Only experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys, such as those at Hoffman & Associates, understand when and how to use civil compromise. We have over 30 years of experience in courtrooms in California and are happy to explain civil compromise in more detail at a consultation. If you, or someone you know, are facing misdemeanor criminal charges, contact us today and let our defense lawyers fight for your rights.