Can I sue someone who has already served a prison sentence for emotional distress?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I sue someone who has already served a prison sentence for emotional distress?

When I was 3 years old, my stepfather molested me in MO. He was jailed for sodomy. His sentence was for 2 years but he was out early on good behavior. I am now an adult. I live with PTSD and severe anxiety. I wish to sue him for pain and suffering caused by his actions and emotional distress. I suffer now because of his actions in the past. I also wish to confront my abuser as an adult as I did not get a chance as a child, the decisions were made for me, for my protection. I would also like to add, that this man threatened myself and my family and killed my dog in front of me in hopes to insure my silence. This has effected me.

Asked on July 25, 2018 under Personal Injury, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

While you need to check whether you are still in time in your state to sue for those various acts and injuries (that is, that you are not out of time under your state's "statute of limitations," or time within which you much file a lawsuit), there is in principal no reason you couldn't sue him. Criminal cases and civil cases are separate: that someone was already punished by criminal law (e.g. convicted; spent time in jail) has no bearing on the ability to sue them in civil (non-criminal) court for compensation for the harm they caused. It would be worth your while to consult with a personal injury attorney, especially one with experience in your state in sexaul abuse cases, about your situation. Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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