The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Cases

More than 34 million civil cases are filed every year. And that doesn’t count criminal cases!

So, what actually is the difference between civil vs criminal cases? When should you seek help from a lawyer? We’re here to help inform you. 

The legal system has two main branches: civil law and criminal law. Keep reading and we will explore those differences. Learn how they impact the legal process and outcomes!

Civil Cases

Civil cases are disputes between individuals or entities. These cases usually involve issues such as breach of contract, personal injury, or property damage.

Criminal Cases

Criminal cases, on the other hand, are cases that involve the violation of criminal law. These cases are typically filed by the government and can result in penalties such as fines or imprisonment.

Difference Between Civil vs Criminal Cases

Here are some of the differences between civil and criminal law. Civil law is primarily concerned with compensating individuals for harm done to them. Criminal law focuses on punishing individuals for breaking the law.

Burden of Proof

One of the key differences between civil and criminal cases is the standard of proof required. The burden of proof in a civil case is usually lower than the burden of proof in a criminal case. This means that it is easier to win a civil case than a criminal case because the evidence required is less stringent.

Compensatory vs Punitive Damages

Compensatory damages are civil court awards meant to compensate the victim for the losses they have suffered. Among such are medical bills, lost wages, or even emotional distress. Punitive damage goes beyond this. The aim is to punish the liable party for extreme or careless conduct.

Criminal cases are about punishing the perpetrator with jail time, fines and other punitive actions. Punitive damages, in criminal cases, serve as a deterrent to future criminal activity. 

Overall, it is important to know the differences between compensatory vs punitive damages to get the right results you need.

Burden of Proof

In civil cases, the plaintiffs must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. The plaintiff must present evidence that is more convincing than that of the defendant’s evidence.

In criminal cases, the prosecutors must prove that there is a case beyond any reasonable doubt. This higher standard of proof in criminal cases aims to protect the rights of the accused. This ensures that only the guilty are rightly punished.

Trial by Jury

In civil cases, the parties involved can decide to have a trial by jury, but it is not required. In criminal cases, however, the defendant has a constitutional right to a trial by jury. This means that the prosecution must convince a jury of the defendant’s guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.

Remember the Difference Between Civil vs Criminal Cases

Civil vs criminal cases are two distinct types of legal action. There are significant differences in burden of proof, potential consequences, and trial by jury. Civil cases are legal actions that involve disputes between individuals or entities. Cases are decided by a judge or jury based on a preponderance of the evidence.

Criminal cases involve violations of criminal law and can result in fines or imprisonment. In such cases, prosecutors must prove guilt beyond all doubt.

Understand the key differences between these two types of cases. You can ensure that you receive fair and just treatment in the legal system.

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