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The Similarities and Differences Between Criminal and Civil Cases

Published on September 25th, 2017

The legal system is designed to provide a platform in which people can iron out their differences. Whether your case will be heard in civil or criminal court depends on the type of complaint you are bringing forth. The following is an overview of how the justice system works and where cases are generally filed.


What Is a Civil Case?


Civil cases are meant to settle disputes between organizations and/or individuals. The victim is known as the plaintiff and the accused is the defendant. These types of cases can be filed in federal or state court rooms. In most civil cases, the defendant is ordered to pay the plaintiff if they lose the case. Some examples of civil case filings are:


  • Personal injury cases
  • Evictions
  • Foreclosures
  • Disputes over money owed for services rendered


What Is a Criminal Case?


Criminal cases are brought against people who are accused of being involved in a crime. One key difference between a civil and criminal case is that in criminal cases the victim has no choice about whether charges are filed or not. If the accused is found guilty, they will receive punishment in the form of jail time, fines, or probation. Examples of criminal cases include:


  • Drug possession
  • Homicide
  • Theft
  • Criminal traffic offenses such as driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics


Do You Need a Lawyer In a Civil Case?


While it is possible to file your own civil case and represent yourself in court, it is not always best to do so. In most civil actions, you cannot sue a defendant for a personal injury case twice which means you want to be successful the first time around. A personal injury lawyer relies on with experience in civil matters can increase your chances of obtaining a monetary award. In these types of cases, you can hire lawyers with expertise in a particular field such as elder law or personal injury law.


Do You Need a Criminal Lawyer?


If you have been charged with a crime, you definitely need legal representation to avoid hefty fines and imprisonment if possible. Criminal lawyers can also negotiate a lighter sentence with the court or ask for alternative punishment such as drug treatment or rehabilitation. If you are facing criminal charges that threaten your freedom, find a criminal lawyer with experience in the type of crime for which you are accused.


The legal system can help people resolve many different types of disputes. However, it can be difficult to navigate for those who are not familiar with the law. For this reason, it is usually best to hire an attorney to guide you through the process. Having a lawyer who protects your interests is the best way to win your case.


If you have a civil or criminal case pending, contact a lawyer for legal advice. During a consultation, a lawyer will let you know if you have a valid case and how to best move forward to obtain the outcome you desire.

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