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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 74607 Find in a Library
Title: Penal Res Judicata and Victim Fault, Part 2
Journal: Revue Internationale de Criminologie et de Police Technique  Volume:33  Issue:2  Dated:(April-June 1980)  Pages:171-178
Author(s): M C Desdevises
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: French
Country: Switzerland
Annotation: The authority of decisions in criminal actions over civil suits against victims is discussed in the second part of a three-part article on criminal decisions and victim responsibility.
Abstract: Civil suits for damages may be brought against victims by defendants when the victim or a third party contributed to the damages. The principle of authority of criminal court decisions over civil decisions applies in such cases. If the attitude of the victim is the object of the civil action, the decision of the criminal judge in that matter cannot be altered by the civil judge to give a different interpretation to the victim's responsibility. Affirmation of victim fault in a criminal suit has no influence on civil decisions about the victim's responsibility in suits brought against the victim. In contrast, the criminal judge's decision about the responsibility of the accused is absolutely binding on the civil judge even in suits against the victim or a third party. Even if the criminal judge finds that fault of the victim constitutes sufficient grounds for releasing the accused, the civil judge cannot exonerate the accused offender on the basis of victim responsibility. However, if the accused is convicted even though victim guilt is a mitigating factor, the civil judge in subsequent suits must accept the division of responsibility. Thus, although the civil judge is theoretically empowered to establish the responsibility of both the defendant and the victim for the offense, criminal court decisions may affect this power. Still, the civil judge may regain his freedom to evaluate the victim's behavior by examining it only from the standpoint of causality. Sometimes the method of determining 'objective' responsibility is not acceptable, for an action of the victim not involving fault may be used to partially or completely exonerate the accused, destroying the presumption of causality and forcing the victim to contribute without justification to compensation of the debt. But resort to findings of 'objective responsibility' is one means for civil jurisprudence to get around a penal process based essentially on a normative analysis of behavior. Extensive notes are supplied. For the first installment, see NCJ 70696. For the third installment, see NCJ 74622.
Index Term(s): Civil liability; Court system; Criminal responsibility; France; Judicial decisions; Laws and Statutes; Offenders; Victims of Crime
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