Civil vs. Criminal Cases: What’s The Difference?

Civil vs. Criminal Cases: What’s The Difference?

The U.S. court system is used to protect people’s rights and provide legal remedies.

There are two primary categories of cases that can come before courts: civil and criminal cases. It is important to understand the difference between a civil vs. criminal case so you can determine what type of legal proceedings are appropriate in your situation and what the possible outcomes are of each case type.

This guide explains everything you need to know about the difference between civil vs. criminal law.

What Is a Civil Case?

Civil laws govern disputes between private parties. A civil case is one in which an individual or entity (such as a corporation) uses the court system to pursue a legal remedy. Common types of civil cases include:

  • Personal injury claims
  • Contract disputes
  • Family law cases such as divorce

If you need the court to step in and take action to protect your legal rights or address a breach of someone else’s legal obligations, you initiate a civil case by filing the appropriate documents with a civil court.

What Is Criminal Law?

Criminal law relates to wrongs committed against the public. If a state or federal government prohibits a certain type of behavior and the laws prohibiting that misconduct are violated, an agent of the state (such as a prosecutor or a district attorney) will take legal action against the violator.

Both the federal government and individual states have their own bodies of law defining what types of behaviors constitute a crime. Many different kinds of wrongdoing could result in criminal charges including but not limited to:

  • Drug crimes
  • Impaired driving
  • Sexual offenses
  • Assault and battery
  • Weapons-related offenses
  • Fraud
  • Larceny
  • Burglary

Crimes are usually divided into two broad categories: misdemeanors, which are less serious offenses that can result in under a year of jail time, and felonies that are more serious and can result in harsher consequences including a year or more of incarceration, life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

You can read the full article at the Forbes.