Criminal vs Civil
When you receive injuries because of someone else, you may wonder how the legal process works. The law has two main sides, criminal and civil. The civil side is different than the criminal side. Civil cases deal more with providing redress for wrongs (people suing other people for money to remedy the wrong done to them), while criminal law is concerned with punishing a wrongdoer for their crimes (the state/city pressing charges against a criminal). Some situations give rise to both sides of the law. For example, if a person is driving while intoxicated and crashes his car into a pedestrian, the city may press charges criminally against the man for driving while under the influence of alcohol, while the innocent victim may need to hire a (civil) personal injury attorney to get the intoxicated driver to pay for the pedestrian’s medical bills. The man may be punished by the state for breaking the law and have to pay fair and adequate compensation to the innocent person he hurt.
Types of Cases
There are different types of cases that would fall under civil and criminal law. Civil cases cover disputes between organizations and people, personal injury claims, divorce, property disputes, ect. The person suing is seeking compensation in an amount of money. Criminal cases include robbery, murder, assault theft, ect. Here, the result is often punishment in jail, the payment of fines, or loss of liberties.
Sometimes the terminology used in these cases is confusing. In a civil case, the person who files the law suit is called the “plaintiff” while the other party is the “defendant”. In criminal cases, the accused person is the “defendant” while the government is “the prosecution”.
Individuals or organizations filing for civil claims may have to present their arguments in front of the judge or jury who will then decide the case. Unlike in criminal cases, the burden of proof is based on the balance of evidence. The exact legal standard is the “preponderance of the evidence.” Once there is enough evidence to establish the claim, the defendant may be found liable and be required to compensate the plaintiff based on the damages incurred.
On the other hand, criminal cases require that to convict the accused, there should be proof “beyond reasonable doubt.” This standard is significantly higher than the standard required in a civil case. “Beyond reasonable doubt” places a high burden on the prosecution to certainly prove every aspect of their case because a person’s liberty is at stake.
If you have been injured by another, you need the right personal injury attorney on your side, to fight for your rights and help you obtain a fair and adequate compensation for your harms and losses. If the person who harmed you is also being punished criminally for the same conduct, that may actually help your case. If you have any questions about your injuries or the legal process, give us a call at 435-986-2222.