Criminal Civil Crossover

  • 04 October, 2023
  • 40.1 MB

In this installment of the Justice Team Podcast, host Bob Simon welcomes Joshua Ritter, an esteemed criminal lawyer and host of the popular podcast True Crime Daily: Sidebar. Josh shares his transition into becoming a plaintiff lawyer for civil cases and discusses how criminal and civil law intersect. Delving into the practical aspects of using a criminal lawyer as an asset or liaison in civil cases, they highlight the importance of restitution, expungement, and cooperation between criminal and civil attorneys. Throughout this conversation, Bob and Joshua emphasize the need for collaboration between criminal and civil attorneys to ensure the best outcomes for their clients. Tune in now to gain insight into the dynamic relationship between criminal and civil law and how it can benefit victims seeking justice.

Joshua Ritter, El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers


Bob Simon (00:07):
All right. Welcome to this episode of the Justice Team podcast. This is Bob Simon, your host, and we have the esteemed Josh Ritter on today. And Josh is a preeminent criminal lawyer. And he’s got a lot of bad guys off for very good things, and a lot of good people off for things that they were accused of.

Joshua Ritter (00:24):
Only accused.

Bob Simon (00:25):
Only accused. And he’s transitioning into … He’s now trans plaintiff lawyer for civil.

Joshua Ritter (00:31):
Yes. To dipping my toes in. Actually getting thrown in the deep end, but learning.

Bob Simon (00:36):
Yeah. Tell them the show that you host where everybody sees and knows your face from.

Joshua Ritter (00:40):
Thank you. It’s called The Sidebar, presented by True Crime Daily. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now, and it’s really starting to gather an audience. So please check it out.

Bob Simon (00:49):
Love it. And I’ve been lucky enough to be on the show to talk civil crossovers. We’re going to talk some criminal civil crossovers today with Josh and how the two are a lot intertwined in how now Josh is stepping in for a lot of victims on the civil side and trying those cases and what that looks like. Again, you can find any of our shows on, if you have any questions or any cases that you want to talk to me about or Josh. But Josh, the first thing I want to talk to you about is how in our practices as a civil trial lawyer, personal injury lawyer, how can we use a criminal lawyer as an asset, or a liaison in some of these cases.

Joshua Ritter (01:28):
Sure. I think in more ways than people realize if they’ve been doing plaintiff’s work, civil work for a while they might not be able to wrap their heads around it. But that was one of the reasons why I joined El Dabe Ritter because we did see a need for criminal representation. One, it just grows the services that you’re allowed to present to your clients as far as helping them out. Sometimes there’s crossover where not even it’s directly related to the case, while your client is in your office. Perhaps they were hurt in an auto accident, but by the way, I’ve picked up a drug case that has nothing to do with that, but I need help, and you’re the only lawyer that they know. So instead of walking them out the door to someone else, you can represent them themselves.

But it also is helpful in a number of different ways in facilitating the civil case. One of those has to do with restitution, which I know we’re going to talk about, but I’m doing a restitution case right now where as the civil attorney, I am representing our victim in criminal court in a hearing to argue a very significant amount of restitution, which is then going to be very helpful in the civil side of things of actually collecting on that.

Bob Simon (02:42):
Yes. So how can a injured victim, they know they have the civil case or they’re getting compensated from that individual or mostly their insurance for that individual, but if that act came upon criminally like a DUI, for instance.

Joshua Ritter (02:56):

Bob Simon (02:56):
So what’s the difference? How can they then get this money from the insurance company, say they had $100 000 policy limit, but then go to the criminal courts to get restitution, define it, and then how does that interplay?

Joshua Ritter (03:07):
Right? And you’re right to point out that there has to be a criminal case involved, obviously. So yes, you’re going to see this most often in cases where it’s a DUI causing injury. Your firm has the injury case, but then that person, the defendant in your civil case is also a defendant criminally and that the state is going after him for the DUI. What happens in restitution criminally is that they will have a hearing. Every victim is entitled to restitution and they’re entitled to their out-of-pocket expenses. So it’s not going to include things like punitives obviously, or future kind of care, future pain, and suffering regarding even mental health. But what did they pay out-of-pocket? What did they have to pay for the ambulance, what did they have to pay for their initial providers, all of that stuff?

You know this, they get huge bills and a lot of that can be negotiated with insurance companies, but in the criminal world, they don’t really care about that. They care about the fact that this victim is either out-of-pocket a significant amount of money, or owes a significant amount of money because they’ve been handed this exorbitant bill from their medical provider. And like I said, I referenced earlier, I have this case right now where we’ve presented a seven-figure bill for a gentleman who has run over in a DUI and had significant brain injuries that the judge is just going to make that order, and we’re not going to have to argue about liability and negligence and everything else. It’s just a matter of, you’ve already been found guilty for the DUI, restitution according to the law says you now owe him for his out-of-pocket.

Bob Simon (04:44):
Yeah. What I think a lot of people don’t realize is that you can, what’s called double dip. I mean, the insurance company cannot say, “Settle with us for the policy limit and waive restitution.” They can’t do that. Correct? Cannot do it.

Joshua Ritter (04:57):
In fact, that’s what we’re dealing with right now is that the way that the judge sees it, and I think accurately so is no, this person’s got a bill. It’s like any other bill. I don’t care what their insurance did in dealing with a medical provider. He still owes that in theory to this medical provider. And I’m going to order that restitution.

Bob Simon (05:15):
Yeah. If you settle even with say, AAA Insurance and they have a hundred thousand policy limit, they cannot make it contingent on you releasing a hundred percent. Yeah. The wrongdoer in this case. Now, another thing don’t realize in California and some other states is guess what else is a bill? The attorney’s fees you had to pay.

Joshua Ritter (05:33):

Bob Simon (05:34):
So if you’re working on a contingency fee and say it was a million dollar settlement for the policy limits, if you’re doing a third 333,000, that’s also you can go to restitution and say, “Medical bills and attorney’s fees.”

Joshua Ritter (05:49):
Right. What are you out-of-pocket? Because it’s about making that person whole, and it’s a very blunt tool in the criminal court. It’s just how do we make this person completely whole for the damage that you have caused to them through your crime?

Bob Simon (06:03):
Great. Okay. Another way that we see this all the time is, Hey, I have a client walk into my office and they got into a crash to no fault of their own, but they got picked up for a DUI.

Joshua Ritter (06:13):

Bob Simon (06:14):
Right. So maybe they were just sitting in a parked car and hit, still a DUI. So it’s like, “Okay, what happens in that situation?” So we engage a criminal lawyer to help the process. How does that go? And then talk to us about what expungement is, because sometimes we get brought cases and clients have prior felonies that can come into play at the civil trial unless it’s not a felony anymore or under certain circumstances. So how do you as a criminal lawyer help us with that process?

Joshua Ritter (06:43):
Yeah. It’s all about mitigating whatever damage the criminal case might have to your client and then helping you facilitate getting the largest amount of return for them. So you’re right, somebody’s hit, maybe they were sitting in their car. If they get picked up for DUI, I’m sure that’s going to be used as leverage by the insurance companies who you’re working with about how it’s going to affect their damages. You don’t want that. So we need to somehow clear up that underlying maybe connected criminal case so that your client is not hindered in any way in collecting fees.

Expungement is another way of doing that. Your client has some felony, some misdemeanor from years ago that is going to become an issue. You can go in and try to get that expunged. And the expungement laws are a little funny because everybody’s entitled to do it. So some people think, “Well, I’ve got a strike felony. I can’t get that.” Yes, you can petition the court. Now, it may get denied. I’m not saying that you’re entitled to an expungement, but you’re entitled to ask for it. And many times people, I have them come into my office and they say, “I tried to get an expungement. I filed the paperwork. Nothing happened with it.” Having a lawyer in court to actually argue these things can go a long way.

Bob Simon (07:55):
Yeah. I felt a lot of times in our practice, we engage your firm and others is we’ll say, “Hey, we will give you the payment for what you need out of our attorney’s fees.” So again, it doesn’t hurt the client, which is like, “Hey, this is something else.” Or, it’s a case advanced cost of that client to hire a criminal lawyer they would never otherwise be able to maybe afford at that moment.

Joshua Ritter (08:15):
Right. Along those lines, I have a case right now where somebody came into me, he’s got a very serious matter that he needs dealing with, and he has a civil case that’s entirely unrelated that he was in a horrible accident and lost his eye. He doesn’t have money though he’s not cash flow’s a problem for him, put it that way. I told him, “Go talk to your plaintiff’s attorney and talk about borrowing against your future fees.” And that’s a loan that my understanding is a lot of people are willing to give to him, especially in a case that appears to be as solid as his. So he’s in the process of doing that right now so that he can pay us the fees to handle his unrelated criminal case, and it’s not going to be an issue with him because it’s going to get paid off by his civil case.

Bob Simon (09:03):
Yeah. And in California, and a lot of other jurisdictions attorneys, if you’re representing a client, can, C-A-N loan their client’s money, as long as one thing is true, you cannot tie it to interest. You can never give an interest loan to your clients. If you’re worried about ethics, you call the ethics hotline at your state bar. You could use a third party to do these things, to loan your clients’ money to get what they need. Josh, just a real quick question. Has anybody ever showed up to your office with a dead body in the trunk?

Joshua Ritter (09:31):
I have attorney-client privilege that I cannot answer that question.

Bob Simon (09:34):
Oh, wow. Wow. So something else pleading the Fifth. What does pleading the Fifth mean?

Joshua Ritter (09:42):
As a criminal attorney, anytime somebody is under indictment, or possibly under indictment, we don’t want them speaking to authorities for any reason whatsoever. And that doesn’t have to do with their guilty and what they’re going to say is going to somehow hurt them. It’s just you got to think the only reason they’re being interviewed by law enforcement is law enforcement is trying to prove their case. And if they’re interviewing your client as a suspect, that’s what they’re trying to do. So if your client also has a civil case going on and they’re subject to depositions, how do you handle that?

And I handle it on a case by case basis if I feel that it’s not going to open them up to any kind of criminal liability for them to go ahead and testify, but if it’s at all connected, I lots of times have to shut it down. And we’ve been able to get delays in discovery. My understanding is it can’t go on forever because sometimes these criminal cases can drag on surprisingly, but there’s no way. I mean, it’s tail wagging the dog Here. I realize you’ve got a civil case and you want to deal with that. I’m trying to keep you out of prison.

Bob Simon (10:43):
And a lot of times the civil case will be stayed until the criminal case is completed, and sometimes judges will let it carry on just depending on circumstances. In California, in the civil case, you can use it against them that they pled the Fifth and refuse to testify, a different criminal, it’s a different standard. So it’s kind of that you got to tow the line there. And just for our listener, something you have to take into consideration if you’re going pursuing a case where the defendant has insurance coverage, there’s a cooperation clause for the insured who the defendant is to cooperate with their insurance.

And if you keep pushing so hard against this, they can’t testify, plead the Fifth deal, we’re going to take a default judgment against you, or really go hard against that in the trial, you may be eviscerating coverage for your client. So again, these are things that you should be on the same side of the criminal attorney for the defendant, because guess what happens? Practical ladies and gentlemen, I’ve done this with Josh in other cases where Josh, if he’s representing the defendant as a criminal lawyer, guess what he can help you do? Put pressure on the insurance company for the civil case to get it resolved because it helps you. Right?

Joshua Ritter (11:56):

Bob Simon (11:56):
How does it help the defendant who’s charged with a crime to get the civil case resolved?

Joshua Ritter (12:05):
Now, they’re unencumbered to defend themselves, and now they don’t have to worry about being subject to depositions, or interrogatories, anything else that’s going to lift up their skirt as it were, before they’re going to perhaps defend themselves in a criminal case. I think more than anything, it’s about eliminating the distractions.

Bob Simon (12:24):
Yeah. And does it also help whenever you’re working at a plea deal and say, look, your honor, they also already resolved the civil case. Is that go into consideration too?

Joshua Ritter (12:33):
Oh yeah, a hundred percent. In fact, a lot of times attorneys will come in and say, “My client has entered into a civil compromise.” And especially in cases dealing with hit-and-run where you’re not … The crime itself wasn’t like a DUI where the state might be more concerned with the behavior, but somebody got into an accident, didn’t stick around. Lots of times they’ll approach not the defendant but the victim in the criminal case and say, “Can we settle this?” They settle it. They go into court and they ask for a civil compromise, essentially saying to the criminal judge, why are we getting involved here? We’ve handled this. They’ve been made whole, no reason to get anybody else’s hands dirty.

Bob Simon (13:13):
Wow. That’s just another example of how practically to use this stuff. And what you can lean in on the criminal side too, is if people … You do a lot of how we call them sex act cases.

Joshua Ritter (13:24):

Bob Simon (13:26):
Just describe those cases that you work on, and then the question I’m going to ask you is, how can you help those people you’re representing find a lawyer that represents them as personal counsel to put on pressure to the insurance company?

Joshua Ritter (13:38):
Yeah. It’s the day and age that we live in, I have seen a change in my practice over the last few years that we’re getting a lot of calls from people who there’s allegations of some sort of sexual misconduct, whether that’s taking place at work, in a dating relationship, or otherwise, that we’re just getting more calls and putting aside all of the politics behind all of that. Many times when I get approached, there’s also a tangential civil issue because perhaps there’s a threat of a lawsuit or perhaps this has to do with their employment, and there’s some issues connected to that. So yes, they’re going to need to get a lawyer involved to help them on that civil side of things so that I, as their criminal attorney, can concentrate on how do we handle keeping them out of prison.

Bob Simon (14:26):
Yeah. And then on the civil side, so what my firm does, and I do specifically is, we’ll represent some of these people that are friends, family referrals from firms like yours for free, but on the contingency of if there is a bad faith action against the insurance company. So if the insurance company doesn’t try to do the right thing and at least do the civil side and settle with the victim, then you can step into the shoes and we can sue the insurance company directly.

Joshua Ritter (14:52):
That’s very interesting.

Bob Simon (14:53):
Yeah. And that’s a big segue. I mean, there’s a big lead into that because a lot of people don’t know this, but your homeowner’s insurance will cover you for any negligent act. If you negligently thought that you didn’t transmit herpes to your one night stand, I mean, they had these herpes cases. I saw them pop up and stuff like this. But your homeowner’s insurance can cover that if it’s not specifically excluded. And again, if you have an attorney acting as your personal counsel saying, “Insurance company, here’s the policies, find them, all these apply, pay, pay, pay. If you don’t pay my client, the insured is getting screwed over on this, we’re going to sue you if you don’t pay.”

Joshua Ritter (15:29):
Yeah, right. That’s fascinating stuff.

Bob Simon (15:31):
Oh, yeah. So there’s a whole bucket there of, again, it’s just like my goal in all these is get the victim compensated.

Joshua Ritter (15:39):

Bob Simon (15:40):
Right. Your job is to protect the interest on the criminal side of that individual, but there’s no harm in getting this victim compensated. Right?

Joshua Ritter (15:48):

Bob Simon (15:48):
So yeah, I think the big vehicles for all of our listeners is restitution is a big play. I think the use of personal counsel is a big play. I think expungement or lessening the exposure is a huge play for us in some of these cases.

Joshua Ritter (16:02):

Bob Simon (16:05):
We do a lot of cases where there’s a lot of, meth is a big problem in the United States, and a lot of our clients end up having meth in their system or in their background, and it’s usually a harm to themself type issue, but we got to get these things dealt with and get it out the door.

Joshua Ritter (16:19):
Yeah. And to help you out too, to just have your client focusing their efforts on what you need them for in their own plaintiff’s case, you need a clean client who’s not worried about all sorts of criminal liability in order to participate in that discovery process and perhaps trial. And you don’t want to be doing that with them worrying about where are they going after this.

Bob Simon (16:44):
Wow. Interesting. Well, we talked about the sexual assault allegation stuff. Anything else new that you’ve seen an uptick in or new areas of law that you’ve been presented with as you’ve been making this switch over to helping the victims get compensated on the civil side?

Joshua Ritter (17:05):
I think where you see it most often is, like we said, that in the sex cases, in the traffic cases that involved crimes, like I said, hit-and-runs, DUIs. But as you were talking, one thing I wanted to go back to is talking about restitution. I was a DA for 10 years before I became a defense attorney, and now getting into the plaintiff’s world. But when we would have civil attorneys coming-

Bob Simon (17:32):
How many cases do you think you’ve tried, by the way?

Joshua Ritter (17:35):
… 50, 60.

Bob Simon (17:36):

Joshua Ritter (17:36):
Yeah. I think so. I mean, you’re doing one a month when you’re first thrown into the DA’s office.

Bob Simon (17:43):
Yeah. They just go. They just go.

Joshua Ritter (17:45):
They do and I literally got handed a trial on day one of working on the job. I lost, by the way, but anyhow. But you get these civil attorneys who come in on a restitution case, and I don’t know what it is, prosecutors just have a natural kind of cynicism towards this, and a distrust of these plaintiff’s attorneys when they come in because they view it as, “Oh, they’re just after money and I’m trying to pursue justice, and this guy’s just after money.” And they’re hesitant to allow you to get involved. And I guess I want your listeners to understand, be cognizant of that when you’re coming in and you’re the plaintiff’s attorney and you’re trying to represent your client as a victim in a criminal case, just make friends with that prosecutor. They can be your best friend and let them know that you’re not here to throw elbows or get involved or tell them how to run their case. You’re just trying to protect your client’s interests, and they’ll find it helpful, especially if you’re willing to provide them with the information that you may have come up with.

Bob Simon (18:44):
Yeah. That’s a good point for our listeners, we do a lot of the same things where the injury or death was the result of an indictment. So we have to work with the DA to make sure that there’s a passive of information. We’re here for you, and sometimes there’s information the DA can give you about certain things. A lot of times the police are doing the investigation for you while the police report is not read in the investigation. If you play nice, you may be able to get stuff that helps you on the civil side to get things resolved. So DAs, defense lawyer is your best friends. This is all a reciprocal business. But yeah, it’s all about playing nice, I do think.

Joshua Ritter (19:19):

Bob Simon (19:19):
And is there any other … I know some notable cases that your firm has worked on. Are you at liberty to say who your past clients were or can I just say things and you don’t say anything or plead the Fifth?

Joshua Ritter (19:32):
Yeah, I can’t say.

Bob Simon (19:33):
All right, all right, all right. That’s okay.

Joshua Ritter (19:35):
If I did my job well, they especially don’t want to know that they came to see me. Yeah.

Bob Simon (19:40):
Well, one of your partners was in trial for a long time with one of the most recent ones.

Joshua Ritter (19:44):
Yeah. Yeah. You could probably say that one.

Bob Simon (19:48):
You can say that.

Joshua Ritter (19:48):
I wasn’t around for that case, but yeah.

Bob Simon (19:50):
Yeah, that was the Harvey Weinstein stuff. I saw a lot of that. I mean, yeah, you know some notable cases that you guys have been part of. So yeah. So if anybody needs to find you, Josh, how best do they contact you?

Joshua Ritter (20:03):
Look up my website, El Dabe Ritter Ritter Trial Lawyers is where they can find us, Or, check out, I have a website too, which talks about my trial work and other stuff that I’m involved in, including the podcast at

Bob Simon (20:18):
Yeah. And if anybody wants to check out that podcast, it’s fascinating. It’s wonderful. And I think they have over 5 million subscribers for that one, so it’s a big deal. Well, Josh, thanks for coming on, and this is the episode of the Justice Team podcast doing criminal civil crossovers. If you have any questions, or comments, or case advice, go to Thank you for listening and viewing if you’re on YouTube. Thank you very much.

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