Civil Disputes vs Crimes

What is a Civil Dispute ?  A civil dispute involves a legal dispute between two or more parties. If the two parties can't reach an agreement to avoid a costly court process, then a civil case is filed with the courts. The person/entity filing the civil case is the "plaintiff" and the person/entity being sued is called the “defendant.”  Contrast this with criminal cases where a victim of a crime does not sue, but rather, the State (plaintiff) sues the person allegedly committing the crime (defendant), and the victim becomes a witness in the case. Another way to view this - a crime is a violation of a law established by a government agency - either city, county, state, or federal. Contrast this with the "dispute" between two or more parties in a civil dispute. i.e. There is no such thing as a "civil crime".

The Process. To begin a civil lawsuit, the "plaintiff" files a complaint with the court and "serves" a copy of the complaint by having it delivered to the "defendant" by a method approved by the court. The complaint describes how the plaintiff was damaged, explains how the defendant caused the damage, and asks the court to order relief. A plaintiff may seek money to compensate for the damage, or may ask the court to order the defendant to stop the conduct that is causing the damage.

Civil Disputes involve many Civil Actions. All of the civil proceedings are expensive and arduous, and out of the financial and emotional reach of most seniors. While many civil lawsuits against scams are successful, to make matters worse, the proceedings expose a senior who has been scammed to public display for being naive or foolish, which is effectively making the victim a victim again. And making the victim a third time victim, most often when a senior "plaintiff" wins a civil case the efforts to collect the court award involve another long civil process. The Seniors Vs Crime Project's Senior Sleuths do everything possible to reach a settlement for a senior without cost and without public or family embarrassment. In fact, Senior Sleuths are successful in a very high per cent of their cases.

Civil Case Example.  To clarify how a civil case is defined, it is best to provide an example. Let's take the case of an invalid senior who has been unable to drive. The invalid senior handed their car keys to a neighbor who has agreed to drive the senior's car to assist the senior. Their verbal agreement was that the neighbor would use the car only to take the senior for medical care or to grocery shop. But suppose the neighbor violates the agreement. One day the senior discovers the car and the neighbor are gone. After a couple of weeks the senior can't find the neighbor or his car and calls the police. The police track down the neighbor out of state at a relative's home. He says the senior gave him permission. In this case there is little that law enforcement can do to assist the senior. If the keys were willingly handed to the neighbor by the senior, then the dispute over the specifics of their agreement are the subject of a civil action, not a criminal action. It becomes the senior's view vs the neighbor's view. This example is unfortunately the exact circumstances of some Seniors Vs Crime Project cases. If the neighbor has manipulated the situation to take advantage of a senior due to their age, poor health, diminished capacity, or trusting nature, Seniors Vs Crime Sleuths will assist the senior in resolving the situation. 

Civil Cases Transitioned from the Seniors Vs Crime Project to Law Enforcement as Potential Criminal Cases.
In the previous example, once the Senior Sleuths gets deeply involved in reviewing the situation, they might discover that the neighbor had committed a crime and that it was not a civil case at all. For instance, perhaps the senior had always kept the keys to the car and gave them to the neighbor for each permitted use, and that on the occasion the neighbor disappeared with the car, the neighbor had sneaked into the senior's room and taken the keys. This case would then be turned over to the appropriate law enforcement authority for criminal investigation and criminal prosecution.

Additional information on the close relationship between Seniors Vs Crime and Florida Law Enforcement Agencies is available in  SVC and Law Enforcement.