I want to know that, if a criminal conviction is dismissed due to it being considered "de minimis", can the person still be considered civilly liable for the actions that took place? Examples would make for a good answer.

3 Answers 3


If I'm charged with a crime for misuse of a pesticide based on an EPA regulation, but it turns out my use was actually tiny and either not worth prosecuting or not enough to get a conviction, my neighbor can still sue me if his dog died after eating a rose that my pesticide spilled onto.


Basically, someone can sue you in a civil action and hope to win if he was harmed in some way, and the responsibility could be linked to you. This could happen even if it was accidental, or there were some other extenuating circumstance that would make it "de minimis" criminally.

One reason is that the standard of evidence in a civil case is "preponderance of evidence, while in a criminal case, it would be "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."


In cases of negligence, you will be generally responsible for any damage you caused, but it is quite possible that no criminal action is taken. That's what would happen in most car accidents, where it is rare that criminal charges are made stick, while you are still responsible for damages.

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