Mukwonago, WI asked in Civil Litigation and Landlord - Tenant for Wisconsin

Q: When to file a civil judgement against someone who confessed property damage to police and is waiting prosecution?

Before vacating, our tenant broke off the inside copper pipe for our central air unit, destroying the unit. We filed a police report and he confessed to them and is waiting to be assigned to a DA. Is it better to file a civil suit now and try to get his wages garnished, or wait until after he's convicted before filing a small claims case? Since the criminal court will include restitution as part of his sentence, will it be better or worse for me to have a small claim judgement already on him?

Does a criminal court order for restitution make a civil one unnecessary? If not, when is the best time to file a civil case against him? Is an order from criminal court for restitution more likely to get paid than a civil one, or will one negate the other?

1 Lawyer Answer
William F Sulton Esq.
William F Sulton Esq.
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: An order for restitution in a criminal case is an order requiring the criminal defendant to pay restitution to a victim. Usually, if the criminal defendant fails to pay the order is converted to a civil judgment. Filing a small claims action will likely result in a default judgment (because the defendant will take the Fifth Amendment or, more likely, not bother to show up), which is much faster than the criminal court process.

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