Civil Discovery Use in a Criminal Case

October 2, 2014

As you and your New Jersey criminal defense lawyer discuss your case, your lawyer may recommend creative approaches to your legal defense. One such approach may be to utilize civil discovery to aid you in your criminal defense, especially if there is an active civil case in a related matter.

Civil Discovery

Civil discovery is much more generous than criminal discovery. If a criminal charge has not yet been filed, you and your New Jersey criminal defense lawyer are not automatically entitled to any criminal discovery of a pending investigation. However, if you use civil discovery in a related civil case, you may be able to gain important insights regarding the evidence that the prosecution may be planning to use against you.


However, sometimes a prosecutor can seek a stay of the civil case. This situation may apply when the prosecution believes that civil discovery may result in the prosecution disclosing too much important information related to their investigation. However, courts often do not grant such orders.

Civil Settlement

Another approach that your New Jersey criminal defense attorney may recommend is using a civil settlement in a case to justify dismissal of a criminal charge. If a civil action has been filed against you, your attorney will be motivated to prevent that case from jeopardizing your position in the criminal case. In some instances, a prosecutor may be persuaded not to pursue a criminal charge, for instance if the victim is returned to the position that he or she was in before the incident.  In such an instance, the prosecutor may not see much incentive to pursue a criminal case. However, the prosecution may still choose to take a hard line by determining that the criminal and civil cases are treated completely separately and will not allow the criminal defendant to in a sense “buy” his or her way out of the prosecution.

Legal Assistance

If you would like more information about how an active civil case may affect the outcome of your criminal case or you would like to discuss potential options in your particular case, contact Tim Anderson at 732-212-2812.


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