Dog Attacks LawyerCivil Charges in a Dog Attack: How It Differs from a Criminal Case

When a dog attacks someone, it can result in both criminal charges and civil lawsuits. As one example, in Memphis recently a man was criminally charged when his pit bulls killed a three-year-old boy, which is different from civil charges in a dog attack.

The types of charges and the legal process differ, depending on whether the case is criminal or civil.

So here is what sets them apart, and what you should do in the case of a dog attack.

Criminal Charges for a Dog Attack

Only the state or federal government files criminal charges, which are intended to punish the offender for violating criminal laws.

In a dog bite case, the state may file criminal charges if the dog owner acted recklessly or intentionally and the dog attacked someone as a result. The charges might include:

  • animal cruelty
  • reckless endangerment
  • child endangerment, or even
  • assault or manslaughter

If the offender is found guilty, they may face fines, imprisonment, or both.

As with any criminal case, prosecutors have to show real criminal behavior beyond a reasonable doubt.

Civil Lawsuits After a Dog Attack

On the other hand, civil lawsuits are filed by the victim of the dog attack. These cases help compensate the victim and their family for their injuries and other damages.

In a civil case, the victim may seek compensation for a variety of losses, including:

  • medical bills
  • lost wages
  • pain and suffering
  • and other expenses related to the attack.

To win a civil case, the victim must prove that the dog owner was negligent and their negligence caused the attack.

Key Differences Between the Two Types of Cases

One of the main differences between criminal and civil charges is the burden of proof.

In criminal cases, the prosecutor must prove the offender’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, the victim only has to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. This means they can show the dog’s owner was more likely than not to have been negligent.

Potential penalties serve as another key difference. In criminal cases, the offender may face fines, imprisonment, or both. In civil cases, the dog owner may have to pay significant monetary damages to the victim.

A dog owner can face both criminal charges and civil lawsuits for the same incident. In fact, the outcome of one case might affect the outcome of the other.

For example, if a criminal court finds the dog owner guilty of a criminal offense, their decision might help the victim win a separate civil case.


Darrell Castle downtown Memphis attorneyWhat to Do After a Dog Attack

No matter what, no one should knowingly let dogs terrorize other people, especially the most vulnerable. Our laws, both criminal and civil, must protect people from dangerous animals and neglectful owners.

If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, it can be a traumatic and life-altering experience. Our dog bite lawyers understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll a dog attack can take on you and your family.

Our experienced attorneys have a proven track record of success in dog bite cases, and we fight tirelessly for your success.

Furthermore, we don’t win anything until we win for you.

Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve. Call 901-327-2100 or use the form on this page to get started.