Federal Rules of Civil Procedures and Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures. The difference between these two litigation processes is in the nature of cases examined. If civil trials examine disputes between citizens, organizations, criminal trials involve cases considered to be harmful to society as a whole. The burden of proof in a civil case is on the plaintiff. On the contrary, the burden of proof in a criminal case is on the government. These are the distinctive features that make civil litigation process different from criminal litigation process.
Key differences between these two processes are:
1. Entry into the system:
– Civil litigation starts when the plaintiff files a complaint against the defendant.
– Criminal litigation begins with the arrest by the police of the person suspected of committing a crime.
– Parties involved in civil litigation gather related evidence on the case, particularly, conduct interviews with the witnesses, organize the existence of important documents and arrange answer-and-question sessions recorded by a court reporter.
– In criminal litigation the judge decides whether to release the accused on bail or to keep in custody. For example, the court may not release the accused if he or she might leave the country.
3. Trial hearings:
– Both sides of civil case present already gathered evidence to the judge or jury. The evidence is presented first by the plaintiff, then by the defendant. The witnesses can be cross-questioned by both sides. Once all evidence is presented, closing arguments made by the plaintiff then by the defendant are followed.
– In criminal litigation, the judge hears the evidence and decides whether probable cause exists or not. If probable cause doesn’t exist, the accused is set free. If the probable cause doesn’t exist, criminal litigation enters into the next phase, where the prosecutor makes an opening statement. After the prosecutor, the accused’s attorney makes an opening statement. Witnesses of both sides are cross-questioned by the prosecutor and the accused’s attorney. The process is followed by closing statement of the prosecutor then by the accused’s attorney.
Followed by trial hearings, the court deliberates and announces the verdict, which can be appealed by the plaintiff as per the civil litigation procedure and by the accused according to the criminal litigation procedure.