The Differences Between Civil and Criminal Cases

The Differences Between Civil and Criminal Cases

Getting to grips with the distinctions that separate civil cases from criminal equivalents, even if you aren’t currently facing charges or have not been victimized in the recent past.

This is arguably an area of the law that everyone needs to understand, and thankfully it is a specific topic once you know the basics, so let’s dive in and settle this once and for all.

Criminal cases unpicked

When a person commits a crime, this is generally the most severe breach of accepted behavior in modern society and is met with harsh punishments. Criminal offenses and their penalties differ from state to state. There are varying degrees of a crime defined within this structure; for example, first-degree vehicular homicide is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $200,000 in New Jersey, according to

While a criminal case can be committed against an individual, the state usually acts as the prosecution, effectively standing in on behalf of wider society to punish those who break the law and act as a deterrent against others who might follow in their footsteps in the future.

Criminal cases include everything from the aforementioned homicide in all its forms, assault, arson, DUIs, theft, etc.

Civil cases explored

While criminal cases occur between individuals and the state, in a civil case, the two parties involved can either be two people or two entities, such as a business or the government. While there is a degree of crossover between criminal and civil cases, the acts’ severity is usually much lower.

Civil cases are frequently fought in the courts, including everything from breach of contract and defamation to death by negligence and divorce.

In short, while criminal cases generally impact wider society, civil cases are narrower in their focus, even if some examples can have far-reaching ramifications.

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