The Differences between a Criminal Case and a Civil Case

Trial courts hear different types of cases, which are separated into two main categories: criminal cases and civil cases. The difference between criminal cases and civil cases turns on the difference which law tries to pursue- redress or punishment.

Civil Case vs Criminal Case!

  • Definition

–          Civil law cases are the disputes between the individuals, companies or between the two. Civil law deals with legal disputes and responsibilities object of which is the redress of wrongs through compensation or restitution.

–          Criminal law cases are the lawsuit brought by the state against a person who has broken the law. Criminal law is the law which deals with crime and pursues the legal punishment of criminal offenses.

  • Terms of punishment

–          In civil cases, the wrongdoer is not punished; he only suffers so much as is necessary for compensating the wrong he has done. The person who has suffered gets a benefit form the law or at least avoids the loss.

–          In criminal cases, the main subject is to punish the wrongdoer. A criminal law case may involve both a jail and monetary punishment in form of fines. The punishment targets to reduce the number of committing similar crimes by the same person later on and satisfy the public.

  • Onus of proof

–          The civil cases are proved by “the preponderance of the evidence”, which means that something was more likely occurred in a certain way. Producing evidence falls on the plaintiff who should go beyond the balance of probabilities.

–          The crimes are proved “beyond a reasonable doubt”, which falls on the state / government.

  • Examples

–          Civil cases include property disputes, landlord/tenant cases, child custody and adoptions, etc.

–          Criminal disputes involve petty theft, vandalism, murder, prostitution, rape and robbery, etc.

  • Attorney

–          In the civil cases, a defendant is not given an attorney and must pay for one to defend him/her.

–          In the criminal cases, a defendant is entitled to an attorney and if s/he can’t afford one, the state must provide one.

  • Jury

–          Doesn’t have to be unanimous- some civil cases are decided by judges some by juries, where only 9 out of 12 jurors must agree on the verdict.

–          Unanimous decision for criminal cases- all 12 jurors must agree on the verdict.

  • Appeal

–          Either party can file an appeal against a decision in case of civil law.

–          Only defendant is eligible to file an appeal against a decision.

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