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Why might a defendant prefer to be sued in one state rather than in another?

Last Updated: Jan 26, 2012  |  534 Views
Topics: Legal Issues

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A defendant might prefer to face either criminal or civil charges in a different state because different states have different laws (and penalties) associated with crimes and class actions.  So, if I live in Ohio but robbed a bank in Indiana, and the possible jail sentence happens to be longer, or the threshold of evidence needed to convict me is lower in Indiana, I might try to face those charges in Ohio, instead, so that it would be harder to convict me or I wouldn’t have to go to jail as long.


And the same is true in civil suits.  If I live in Oklahoma, and I wrecked into someone else’s car from Kansas while we both happen to be on vacation in South Dakota, I would like to be sued in whichever state (OK, KS, or SD) which awards the lowest damages to the injured person.  And in the same way, they would want to bring suit in the state that had the highest potential payout, or the lowest threshold of evidence.


A good database for examining the laws of different states is Lexis-Nexis.  Click on ‘US Legal’ on the left side, and then choose ‘State Statutes, Codes, and Regulations’.


Note that the above examples are theoretical.  I have not checked to see what the sentencing laws or liability laws are in Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kansas, or South Dakota.  It is also not easy to get a change of venue like the ones listed above.  If I commit a crime in Indiana, I am almost certain to be charged in Indiana unless a significant part of that crime or crimes were also committed in Ohio.




Matt Dilworth

Answered by Matt DilworthBookmark and Share

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