A stabbing attack can be defined as when one person injures another person using a sharp or pointed object, such as a kitchen knife. These incidents can occur in various settings, but most usually arise during the commission of criminal activity like a street fight or bank robbery.
Although most stabbings are generally conducted with the use of some kind of knife, they can also involve other sharp instruments, including a needle, a sword, scissors, an ice pick, and so on.
In general, stabbing attacks are typically the most serious of those attacks that involve sharp objects (as opposed to slashing or cutting). The reason for this is because slashing or cutting incidents usually only affect the surface of the skin, whereas a stabbing can often injure vital organs and other internal body parts. Such injuries are very dangerous and can be fatal.
A person who stabs another may be liable for committing battery and assault against the stabbing victim. The attacker may also be held liable under both the civil and criminal versions of assault and battery laws.
Can I Sue the Person Who Stabbed Me?
As discussed above, the victim of a stabbing can bring a legal action in both civil and criminal court. However, it is up to the state to prosecute the defendant in criminal court. If the victim wants to personally sue to obtain compensation for being stabbed, then they will have to file the matter in civil court.
The difference between the two is that criminal court is reserved for punishing and deterring the defendant from committing criminal acts again in the future. Cases in criminal court must be brought by a state prosecutor or a local district attorney. Civil court, on the other hand, is where private individuals may sue to obtain personal remedies (e.g., damages).
Thus, a defendant who is convicted in criminal court can be issued penalties like a prison sentence or criminal fines that will be paid to the state. In contrast, a defendant who is convicted in civil court will not be issued a jail sentence or fines, but rather will have to personally pay their victim some amount of damages.
A stabbing victim who decides to sue the defendant in civil court will most likely receive compensatory damages for their injury. Compensation damages can be used to cover expenses, such as hospital costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other financial losses that were caused as a result of the stabbing.
What Type of Evidence is Used to Prove a Stabbing Case?
In order to prove a stabbing case, the court will require certain evidence to support the victim’s claim. Depending on the facts of a specific case and the laws of the jurisdiction hearing it, there are various types of evidence that can be used to prove the stabbing. Such evidence may include:
- Physical items (e.g., the knife or instrument used in the attack);
- Eyewitness testimony;
- Police reports;
- Statements made by the defendant (both verbal and written);
- Medical records and other relevant documents;
- Videos or photographs of the incident;
- Evidence from the scene where the crime took place (e.g., bloodstains);
- Testimony from expert witnesses; and/or
- Various other forms of necessary evidence.
In addition, the proper standard of proof will also have to be met in court. The standard of proof in criminal cases means that the prosecutor will have to prove the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The standard of proof is much lower in civil cases. Thus, it is generally easier to win a civil lawsuit.
What are the Charges for Stabbing?
As previously mentioned, the defendant may be liable for civil damages as well as receive criminal penalties. For instance, if convicted the defendant can get jail time for stabbing the victim. They also may be required to pay criminal fines and be put on probation.
The type of punishment that the defendant receives will generally depend on the following factors:
- State laws;
- The weapon or instrument involved in the stabbing (e.g., knife versus pencil);
- How serious the injury was;
- Whether the defendant is a repeat offender;
- The facts of the case; and/or
- Whether there are any applicable defenses (e.g., self-defense).
Does the Defendant Have Any Available Defenses?
There are several defenses that may be available to a defendant in a stabbing attack case. For example, a defendant might be able to claim that they were stabbing someone in self-defense. Although the requirements to successfully prove self-defense will vary by state, most require that the defendant have a reasonable belief that they are in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.
Another defense that a defendant in a stabbing attack case may be able to claim is duress. If another party forced the defendant to stab the victim, they may be able to raise duress as a defense. However, if the stab wounds result in the victim dying, then this defense will no longer be available to the defendant.
Although this particular defense will largely depend on the facts of an individual case, the defendant may be able to use consent as a defense as well. For instance, if the victim consented to being stabbed, then the defendant may argue consent as a defense.
Do I Need an Attorney If I Was the Victim of a Stabbing?
If you are the victim of a stabbing attack, then you should contact a local personal injury lawyer immediately for further assistance. Your lawyer can assess the evidence, use their findings to determine whether you have a case, and can help you prepare and file one if they believe that you have a supportable claim.
Additionally, your lawyer can also explain the laws in your jurisdiction and what the potential damages awards are if your case is successful. Lastly, your attorney will be available to answer any questions you may have throughout the process, and can provide representation in court if necessary.