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How to make a criminal compensation claim when the person who caused your injury is not prosecuted or convicted of a crime
On this page you will learn how it is still possible to succeed in a criminal compensation claim even when the person who caused your injury is not prosecuted or is found "not guilty" in a criminal trial.
Does the person who caused your injury have to be convicted for your criminal compensation claim to succeed?
"No," there are three main examples when you can still succeed in a UK criminal injury compensation claim even though no one is convicted for the offence which caused your injury:
1. The offender is unknown or cannot be found
After investigation by the police the person who committed the crime which caused your injury may not be known or be able to be found. This is quite common, but does not affect your ability to claim compensation.
2. Insufficient evidence to prosecute
The Crown Prosecution Service may decide that, although there is a suspect for your crime, there is not enough evidence to prove that person committed the crime that led to your injury.
The Crown Prosecution Service is the organization that decides whether it is in the public interest to proceed with a criminal trial. It will not recommend public funds be spent on a trial unless there is a good chance of success.
Just because there is insufficient evidence to take a suspect to court does not stop you from being able to claim criminal injury compensation.
3. A criminal trial takes place that does not lead to a conviction
There may be a suspect for your crime and the Crown Prosecution Service may decide that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, but at trial that person may be found "not guilty".
It is a little known fact that your criminal injuries compensation claim will still be considered in these circumstances, but your application will only be processed after the criminal trial is over and all the trial evidence can be considered.
How can your criminal compensation claim succeed if a suspect is found "not guilty" at trial?
It is more unusual for your criminal compensation claim to succeed if the accused has been found "not guilty" at trial, but there are two main circumstances you may still succeed:
1. The person accused was not known to you
Imagine you are walking home after a night out when you are attacked from behind receiving injuries. You call the police and some witnesses give evidence to suggest it was a certain individual.
At trial it was decided that the accused was "not guilty". There could be any number of reasons - perhaps the witnesses evidence was not consistent or convincing at trial.
In any event - it is likely your criminal injury compensation claim would succeed as the evidence suggests that you were assaulted, but the accused was not the person who committed that crime.
2. The person accused was known to you
Imagine that you were a victim of child abuse. As a young adult you get away from your abuser and find the courage to tell the police who decide to prosecute.
At trial - witnesses are intimidated and their evidence inconsistent, your recollection of exact details may not be perfect because you were so young and an injustice occurs - the trial does not go your way and the abuser is found "not guilty".
Even in this instance it is still worth making a claim for criminal injuries. This is because the two tests to decide whether an individual is guilty of a crime and whether an individual should receive criminal compensation are different.
The "test" is called a "burden of proof".
How does the "test" or "burden of proof" differ in a criminal trial and a criminal injury compensation claim?
In a criminal trial the test is technically known as "beyond reasonable doubt". In other words - to prosecute an individual at trial the jury must be certain that the accused committed the crime and if they have any doubt they should find the accused "not guilty".
This may shock you - but in the UK we have decided as a matter of law that it is better a number of guilty people go free than to run the risk of imprisoning an innocent person.
In UK law the test to win a compensation claim, including criminal injury compensation, is technically known as "the balance of probabilities". In other words - you need only show to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority that it was more likely than not that the person accused caused your injuries as a crime.
As this test for receiving compensation is much easier to satisfy - there is still a very strong criminal compensation claim even when the accused is found "not guilty".
Normally your criminal compensation claim must be started within two years from the date of a crime, but in the case of child abuse it is likely that the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority will waive the two year period and allow a claim to proceed even if many years have passed after the abuse has finished.
On this page you have learned why you can succeed in a criminal compensation claim even when a criminal conviction has not taken place.
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