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What’s the difference between civil and criminal cases?

14.12.2021

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Typically, civil trials involve private conflicts between individuals or corporations. In criminal situations, an action is taken that is thought to be harmful to society as a whole (hence, these are considered offenses against the «state» or the jurisdiction of the prosecution). Although criminal and civil law is distinct, there is significant overlap. When examining civil vs. criminal situations, it’s critical to grasp the distinctions and similarities, which are summarized in the sections below. For an in-depth understanding of the basic differences do check the fort collins criminal defense attorney.

Civil Cases

A civil case begins when a person or entity (such as a corporation or the government), referred to as the plaintiff, asserts that another person or entity (referred to as the defendant) has failed to fulfill a legal duty owed to the plaintiff. «Parties» or «litigants» are terms used to describe both the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff may seek the court to order the defendant to perform the duty or to compensate the plaintiff for the injury he or she has caused, or both. Respecting rights established by the Constitution or federal or state legislation is one of the legal obligations.

Both state and federal courts can hear civil cases. A citizen (including a company) suing another citizen for breaching a contract is an example of a civil case in a state court. Here if you want a lawyer you would probably approach a family lawyer like fort collins family attorney.

Criminal Cases

A person accused of a crime is usually charged in a formal allegation known as an indictment (for felonies or serious offenses) or information (for less serious crimes) (for misdemeanors). If the person is charged with a federal offense, the government prosecutes the case on behalf of the American people through the United States Attorney’s Office. State crimes are prosecuted by a state’s attorney’s office (sometimes known as a «District Attorney»).

It is not the responsibility of the victim to file a criminal complaint. In an abduction case, for example, the government would prosecute the kidnapper while the victim remained uninvolved. There may not be a specific victim in some criminal instances. State governments, for example, arrest and prosecute anyone accused of breaking laws against driving while inebriated since society views this as a severe infraction that can endanger others.

When the lines between civil and criminal cases blur

Civil lawsuits involve disagreements between (typically) private parties, whereas criminal trials involve offenses against the city, state, county, or federal government. However, some actions may result in both civil and criminal claims. Sometimes, the cases may be intertwined like if you were under influence of any drug or alcohol while driving and you hit a person, you may also need a DUI attorney like fort collins dui attorney. For example, a person can be sued for the deliberate tort of assault and/or battery, as well as arrested and charged with assault and/or battery crime(s). 

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