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Differences Between Criminal And Civil Litigation Cases


The judicial system in the United States is complex. Most people understand that people accused of criminal offenses will be allowed to defend themselves in the courtroom. After all, these individuals are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. However, the court system goes well beyond this. When it comes to civil disputes, there is always a chance that it is going to result in a lawsuit. If that happens, civil litigation will enter the courtroom. There is a major difference between criminal and civil litigation cases. Within this guide, you will learn about those differences.

The Purpose

First and foremost, you should know that there is a difference in terms of purpose. When it comes to criminal litigation, the state is attempting to hold someone responsible for their deeds. It wants to punish the culprit. In a civil case, things are different. One party is suing the other in hopes of getting compensation. This is the purpose of filing the suit in the first place. The appellant believes that they were done wrong. They want the defendant to pay compensation for their deed. A civil case is never going to lead to jail time.

Different Attorneys

While you’re at it, you should know that there are going to be different attorneys involved. Some attorneys have studied criminal law for many years. Criminal attorneys are best at defending clients from criminal prosecution. In the worst cases, they’ll do their best to help their clients get a lighter sentence. Civil attorneys have focused on other aspects of the law. They’re going to do everything possible to defend their client and ensure they do not have to pay out a hefty settlement. Civil attorneys will defend individuals and corporations. Criminal attorneys will mostly work with people accused of crimes.

What Is Criminal Litigation?

Now, you should learn about the basics of criminal litigation. In this type of scenario, the state or federal government will attempt to prosecute someone for crimes they’ve been accused of committing. They’ll be indicted by a grand jury. Then, they’ll go through a court trial. They can be judged by their peers or a judge. The choice is left up to the defendant in some cases. Either way, the goal is to put someone behind bars and make sure that they face the necessary repercussions. This is not going to happen with a civil case. The two are starkly different.

Civil Cases

Civil cases involve disputes between individuals, companies, government entities, or organizations. Unlike criminal cases, civil cases do not involve actions that are considered “harmful” to society. In a civil case, the plaintiff is the individual responsible for filing the lawsuit. The defendant is an individual, company, or entity accused of wrongdoing.

Plaintiffs have the option of asking the court to tell the defendant to make compensation or fulfilling their duty. The federal and state courts hear civil cases. Anyone who believes they have been wronged can file a civil lawsuit. In most cases, civil lawsuits are trial by jury.


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Written by Nat Sauteed


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