Difference Between a Criminal Case and a Civil Case

The Difference Between a Criminal Case and a Civil Case


The american legal system includes two types of causes very different: the civil and the criminal. Crimes are generally offenses against the state and, consequently, are judged by the state. On the other hand, civil cases are typically disputes between individuals regarding the legal duties and responsibilities between them.

The Key Differences Between a Criminal case and a Civil case

Here are some of the key differences between a criminal case and a civil case:

  • Crimes are considered offenses against the state or society as a whole. That means that if one person could kill another, the murder in itself is considered an offense to all of the members of the society. In consequence, the crimes against the state are judged by the state, and the prosecutor (not the victim) presents the case to the court as a representative of the state. If it were a civil case, the party concerned would cause.
  • The criminal offences and the civil offences usually differ in terms of their punishment. The causes of criminal for imprisonment as a potential punishment, whereas civil cases usually result in monetary damages or orders to innovate or not to innovate. You must take into account that a criminal case may involve both prison sentences as punishment, economic in the form of fines.
  • The degree of proof also differs greatly between a criminal case and a civil. In general, the crimes must be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”, whereas civil cases are checked by degree of proof less stringent, such as “the preponderance of the evidence” (which basically means that it is more likely that it has occurred in a certain way that the other). The different degrees there are because civil liability is considered less blameworthy and because the punishments are less severe.
  • Criminal cases almost always allow a trial by jury. Civil cases allow juries in some cases, but many civil cases will be heard by a judge.
  • A defendant in a criminal case has the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford one, the state must assign one. A defendant in a civil case you do not receive an attorney and must pay one or to defend himself.
  • The protections afforded to defendants under criminal law are many (such as the protection against unlawful registrations and seizures under the fourth amendment). Many of these protections is very well known not to be offered to a defendant in a civil case.

In general, because criminal cases have greater consequences (the possibility of going to prison and even death), the criminal law offers more protections and are more difficult to prove.

The Same Conduct Can Produce Civil and Criminal Liability

Although the civil and criminal cases are treated very differently, many people do not understand that the same behavior can generate a criminal and civil liability at the same time. Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this is the trial of OJ Simpson. The same conduct led to a murder trial (criminal) and a judgment for wrongful death (civil). In part due to the different degrees of proof, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to decide that OJ Simpson was guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a criminal case for homicide. However, in the civil trial, the jury determined that the evidence was sufficient to reach the conclusion, by a “preponderance of the evidence” that OJ Simpson had killed his wife otherwise at fault.

The process of the criminal law can be very difficult with a lot of stress. If charged for a crime, it is important to contact a lawyer immediately to protect and analyze their rights.

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