Imagine that you are a business owner being sued by a former employee. You need to know what type of law is being used to determine the best course of action. Is it criminal? Or is it a civil case? If you’re not as familiar with legal matters, you may not be sure how to tell the difference. This article will highlight the considerable differences between the two, so you’ll know whether you’ll need to hire a criminal defense law firm or not.
Prosecution vs. Resolution
One of the key factors in differentiating between criminal and civil law is understanding that criminal law is about prosecution while civil law is about resolution. In a criminal case, the state or federal government prosecutes an individual for allegedly breaking the law. The main goal of a criminal trial is to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime they have been accused of. If the defendant is found guilty, they will be subject to criminal penalties, such as jail time, fines, or probation.
Conversely, civil law is not about prosecution. It is about resolution. In a civil case, two individuals or organizations sue one another to resolve a dispute. The main goal of a civil trial is to reach a mutually agreeable resolution for both parties. Unlike in a criminal trial, there is no finding of guilt or innocence, and there are no criminal penalties. Instead, the court may order one party to pay damages to the other party.
Almost anyone can sue under civil law. Individuals, businesses, and even government agencies can all bring civil lawsuits. The only requirement is that there must be a dispute that the court can resolve.
Another key difference between criminal and civil law is how court proceedings are conducted. In a criminal trial, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high standard of proof, and it puts the burden of proof on the prosecution. The prosecutor must present evidence that shows that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In criminal cases, the accused party is often represented by a criminal defense law firm, whose attorneys will work to prove their innocence. In civil court, the plaintiff and defendant often represent themselves; however, they may also have a lawyer.
In civil cases, the standard of proof is much lower. The plaintiff only needs to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. They must show that it is more likely than not that their version of events is accurate.
Another key difference is that, in a criminal trial, the defendant has the right to a jury of their peers. In a civil trial, either party can request a jury, but it is not guaranteed.
Both have purpose
Criminal law exists to protect society from those who would do it harm. It is the government’s job to prosecute criminals and keep them off the streets. The purpose of criminal law is to deter crime and to protect the public.
Civil law exists to resolve disputes between individuals or organizations. It is the court system’s job to hear both sides of a conflict and reach a resolution that is fair to both parties. The purpose of civil law is to keep the peace and to protect people’s rights.
Both have consequences
The punishments for breaking criminal law can be severe. They can include jail time, fines, and probation. The sentence will depend on the severity of the crime and the jurisdiction.d. The defendant’s criminal record is also taken into account.
The consequences of breaking civil law are not as severe. The most common penalty is that the court will order one party to pay damages to the other party. The amount of damages will depend on the severity of the harm caused and the court’s jurisdiction.
Criminal law and civil law are two very different systems. Criminal law is about punishment, while civil law is about resolution. Now that you understand the basics of each system, you can decide which one is right for your case. No matter the legal issue, we always recommend reaching out to a reputable lawyer for guidance.