Use of Record of Criminal Conviction in Subsequent Civil Action Arising From the Same Facts as the Prosecution

The overwhelming majority of courts considering the issue without the aid of pertinent legislation have held that a record of a prior criminal conviction may not be used against a convicted person in subsequent civil proceedings arising from the same facts as the criminal prosecution but to which the state is not a party. It is admissible neither as evidence of the facts underlying it, nor as the basis of an estoppel preventing the convicted party from relitigating those issues which must have been decided against him in the criminal trial for the judge or jury to have found him guilty. Consequently, a man convicted of arson for burning his own property may nevertheless succeed in collecting the proceeds of his fire insurance policy, unless the insurer can prove the origin of the destruction unassisted by the record of conviction. Similarly, one found guilty of criminal assault may successfully defend a subsequent tort action brought by the complaining witness in the criminal trial which led to the conviction if the plaintiff is unable to make a convincing case without the use of the record of that conviction in his civil suit.”