What happens when a party to civil litigation has pled guilty to a crime and the civil litigation arises out of the same set of facts as the criminal complaint? An admission against interest arises.
A plea agreement will have an effect in the ongoing civil litigation arising from the same action or occurrence. Generally, evidence of a prior criminal conviction is admissible in a civil proceeding as prima facie evidence of the facts upon which the conviction is based if those facts are relevant to some issue involved in the civil proceeding. Brown v. Green, 738 F.2d 202, 206 (7th Cir. 1984)
While tickets and other citations are generally admissible in Illinois, guilty pleas for intentional torts such as assault or battery are also admissible as admissions against interest. Specific to guilty pleas for assault and battery, the court in Galvan v. Torres, 8 Ill.App.2d 227, 232, 131 N.E.2d 367, 369, stated:
‘A plea of guilty to a criminal indictment for assault and battery is admissible in evidence in a civil case based upon the same assault and battery as it is an admission against interest. Young v. Copple, 52 Ill.App. 547; Cammarano v. Gimino, 234 Ill.App. 556.
Barnes v. Croston, 108 Ill. App. 2d 182, 184, 247 N.E.2d 1, 2-3 (Ill. App. Ct. 1969)
Further, Smith v. Shehan is illustrative of this issue as it pertains to an assault and battery conviction. In Smith, Plaintiff , a Correctional officer, brought a state common law tort action against another correctional officer for assault and battery. Plaintiff moved for judgment on the pleadings as to defendant’s liability on the ground that his prior criminal conviction for battering plaintiff prevented him from denying facts necessary to hold him liable on battery claim. The Court, held that in a tort action for assault and battery, defendant was collaterally estopped, under Illinois law, from denying liability by his prior conviction for battering plaintiff; defendant was party to criminal case, whether he battered plaintiff was actually litigated in criminal action, resolution of that issue was necessary for determination of defendant’s guilt, and issues were identical in both cases. Smith v. Sheahan, 959 F. Supp. 841 (N.D. Ill. 1997) The court in Smith stated that a guilty plea is an admission and may be considered with the other evidence. Id.