Jefferson County jurors concluded that a 27-year-old man was not guilty of two Bowman Field murders in 2018.
After two people were found dead near the airport, police arrested the alleged shooter in Texas. Prosecutors based their case on the fact that the defendant was in a romantic relationship with one of the two victims, and the defendant shot them both, as they were dating at the time. Furthermore, about two weeks before the shootings, a judge issued a protective order against the defendant.
Jurors determined the defendant’s fate on charges of burglary and murder. Additional charges of tampering with evidence were dismissed before trial.
Criminal vs. Civil Law: Purpose
Jury trials are a staple of the American criminal justice system, but they’re almost unheard of in most other countries. 90 percent of the world’s jury trials occur in the United States. People understandably criticize the often one-sided nature of criminal justice in America. But if you get in trouble in Russia, China, Mexico, or pretty much any other country, you’ll find out what one-sided justice really is.
But enough of our soap box. Now, let’s talk about the different purposes of criminal and civil law. In a nutshell, criminal courts punish offenders. This punishment is usually a fine and court supervision. Confinement is pretty rare except in extreme cases. Occasionally, a crime victim fund gives some compensation to victims, or offenders must pay a victim’s medical bills as a condition of probation.
Civil courts, on the other hand, exist to compensate victims and force responsible parties to take responsibility for their mistakes.
Available compensation is much higher in civil court. A Lexington personal injury attorney can obtain money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
As for responsibility, individuals are legally responsible for assaults, murders, and other violent acts. They’re morally responsible for them. However, a third party, such as an airport owner or other property owner, may be financially responsible for them. More on that below.
Criminal vs. Civil Law: Proof
The purpose of criminal and civil law isn’t the only difference between these two forums. It’s not even the biggest difference. That distinction probably belongs to the burden of proof.
Government prosecutors must establish guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. Additionally, the Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, and other provisions in the Bill of Rights lay down specific rules for criminal investigations and prosecutions. If officials violate these rules, the cases against them usually cannot go forward.
In contrast, the burden of proof in a civil case is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
A hit-and-run case illustrates the difference. Government prosecutors must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant was behind the wheel at the time. So, unless a credible witness got a very good look at the driver or someone comes forward and confesses, a criminal conviction is probably impossible.
However, in civil court, a Lexington personal injury attorney just needs to identify the vehicle. A vague description and a partial plate number is usually enough. It’s more likely than not that the owner was also the driver, especially if the driver doesn’t have an ironclad alibi.
Elements of a Negligent Security Claim
Airport owners and other owners aren’t directly responsible for violent crimes that occur on their properties. However, negligent security sets the stage for such acts. Negligent security includes:
- Burned-out lights,
- Broken cameras,
- Non-working gates, and
- Inadequate level of security (e.g. an unarmed guard when an armed guard is necessary).
If an evildoer knows that a back alley is dark or a security guard can’t do anything other than dial 9-1-1, the evildoer is probably more likely to commit a violent act in that area. This analysis goes back to the burden of proof, which is more likely than not.
Moreover, a Lexington personal injury attorney must prove foreseeability (possibility) of injury. Evidence of foreseeability includes prior similar incidents at that location and the area’s reputation as a “high crime” area. Since the burden of proof is so low, a little evidence goes a long way.
Finally, the owner must have a legal duty of care. Most property visitors, whether they’re paying customers, window shoppers, employees, people picking up passengers, or social guests, are invitees in Kentucky. Therefore, a duty of care applies.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.