Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Hello, My name is ***** ***** I will assist you today. Please give me a few minutes to write a response and identify any additional resources for you.
I am very sorry to learn of this situation.
Unfortunately, you are correct - the guilty plea in the criminal case will give the plaintiff in the civil case an "automatic" advantage - they will not be forced to prove your liability to them.
However, just because they have proven liability does not mean they are automatically entitled to the inflated value that they are now claiming in the civil case - you can defend this based on a valuation of the actual damage to the trees, and also ensure that the court's civil judgment is not duplicative of the criminal restitution order (the landowner should not be compensated twice). You can even try to argue that the criminal court judgment must have been based on a reasonable valuation, therefore that amount should be deemed sufficient - but don't rely on that, instead try to find a reputable timber expert to testify as to the value of the trees.
You also have the right to file a "cross-complaint" against the logger that actually cut the trees down. If you showed the logger the correct property line and he cut on the other side of that line, his negligence is the actual cause of these damages and you can sue him in what we call a cross complaint to force him to reimburse you for any damages that you incurred due to his actions (including both the restitution order and any civil award).
You are welcome, and I do wish you the best with this matter.
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