How Are Criminal and Civil Law Similar?

Differences Between Criminal and Civil Cases

Civil law deals with disputes between individuals, organizations, or between the two, in which the compensation is awarded to the victim. Civil cases usually involve private disputes between individuals or organizations. Criminal law, on the other hand, is the body of law that deals with crime and legal punishment of criminal offenses. Criminal cases involve actions that are considered to be harmful to society as a whole.

In criminal cases, only the federal or state government can initiate a case. Cases are almost always decided by a jury. Punishment for serious charges consists of imprisonment, but can also include a fine paid to the government, to secure conviction, and the prosecution must establish the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

In civil cases, cases are initiated by a private party and decided by a judge. Punishments almost always consists of a monetary award instead of imprisonment, and the plaintiff must establish the defendant’s liability according to the “preponderance of evidence.” The preponderance of evidence standard primarily applies to civil law cases. For example, if one individual sues another due to injuries sustained in a car crash, the person who is suing would need to convince the courts that it is more likely than not that the defendant caused the crash that led to the injuries.

Similarities Between Criminal and Civil Cases

In both a civil and criminal case, the victim is an individual or entity like an agency, business, or corporation that is harmed, injured, killed, or has their property rights violated. Also in both types of cases, the decision made by the court can be appealed. The appeal process can seek to change the initial judgment. There are other alternatives, which include appealing the damages or severity of the sentence. There are some instances when a criminal act can give way to civil liability. For example, if an individual is charged with homicide and sued for wrongful death at the same time, the civil part of the case would follow the completion of the criminal trial process. In cases like this, the criminal charges would be punishable by fines, prison time, and other penalties, whereas the goal of the lawsuit would be to recover funds to compensate the victim for damages.

For both types of law, the parties are entitled to a lawyer. The key difference here is that for criminal cases, a lawyer will be appointed to you if you cannot afford one. Although there are some distinct differences between civil and criminal cases, having a lawyer with experience in both will be advantageous for any type of case. At The Clark Law Firm, our attorneys advocate for the accused. We have the skills necessary to protect both the legal and financial needs of our clients. Whether we are dealing with criminal cases or civil cases such as family law, we will be diligent in making sure our clients needs are being served and they are being treated in the best way possible during their time in court.

To learn more about the benefits of working with a lawyer with civil and criminal experience, call The Clark Law Firm at (817) 435-4970 or contact us online.


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