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Claims When There is no Criminal Conviction
Can you claim if the perpetrator is not convicted?
It is not an absolute necessity for the person who injured you to be actually convicted of the crime in which you were harmed in order for you to claim compensation. The following are the scenarios that are likely to arise in which there is no conviction but you can still claim compensation:
- Unidentified offender – if the identity of the offender is not known or if they got away and cannot be traced by the police, then there is absolutely no reason, should your claim be truthful, that you cannot claim compensation.
- Insufficient evidence – it is possible that the Crown Prosecution Service will decide that there is not enough evidence for a prosecution to be successful in court. In this case they will not deem it prudent to use public funds in a case that they do not see as having any chance of success. This could occur for many reasons — perhaps witnesses refuse to testify or there is confusion over who actually caused the injury and no definitive route to proof. If the injury is veracious then there is nothing stopping you from claiming compensation.
- Unsuccessful prosecution – if the prosecution is brought before the courts but a verdict of not guilty is returned, then you can still attempt to claim for compensation. However, the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (CICA) will be allowed to look at the evidence of the trial when deciding upon your case, though this does not mean that you cannot try.
It is entirely possible for a criminal compensation claim to succeed even if a suspect for the crime is found not guilty at trial. One of the main reasons for this is because the balances on which the guilty/not guilty and compensation/no compensation outcome pivot are weighted differently.
For a criminal conviction the decision as to whether guilt is ascribed or not rests on the phrase ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. This means that if there is any doubt in the minds of the jurists that the accused is not guilty then that is the verdict that they should return. It is guided by a conviction which holds personal liberty in pre-eminence; that, in an imperfect world, it is preferable that some who are guilty should go free, rather than one who is innocent being shackled.
For CICA to award criminal compensation, the claimant need only show that its own favour in the ‘balance of possibilities’ is the greater. This means that if it is more probable than not that the accused injured the claimant then compensation can be awarded. A compensation claim being paid out incorrectly is obviously a far less weighty scenario than an innocent person being punished for a crime they did not commit - in fact, the injustice here would be a person who was injured by a criminal being refused compensation - so the requirements for proof are less stringent here.
It is obviously much easier to satiate the 'balance of possibilities' than to establish something 'beyond reasonable doubt' — this is why a criminal compensation claim may still succeed through the accused was found to be innocent.
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