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The Difference Between Criminal Court and Civil Court
There are massive differences between criminal and civil courts. They serve different purposes, depending on the aspect of the law. Similarly, there are different types of criminal lawyers and various jobs these criminal lawyers do.
In fact, there are many things to know about criminal lawyers, a lot more than you would initially think. But, we digress. If you’re looking to find out about the differences between criminal and civil courts, you don’t have to consult a defense attorney in San Diego, CA. All you need to do is keep reading!
What is the difference between criminal and civil cases?
As you might have guessed, there are quite a few differences between criminal and civil cases in the Southern District of California Department of Justice. Let’s see if we can break down the biggest ones:
- The start – In civil cases, the person who claims to have suffered damages takes that claim to court and demands a compensation that usually comes in the form of money.
On the other hand, in criminal cases, it is the government, i.e. the prosecution, who takes the case against the accused individual to court, not the victim, and it is usually not for monetary gains.
- Representation – In civil cases, both parties – the person who is taking the case to court, as well as the person who is being sued, can hire legal representation, but they do not have to.
It’s a bit different in criminal cases. A lawyer is always present to represent the government, while the defendant can either choose a lawyer to represent him or her, or will be presented one by the government in case of insufficient financial means to pay one.
- Expenses – When it comes to civil cases, the person who is taking the case to court has to pay for the expenses of just that – taking the case to court, while the person who is being sued pays for their own expenses. Finally, the person who loses has to pay for all the fees that are related to the case itself, and, in some cases, compensate all the legal fees of the other party.
Criminal cases are different – the government usually pays all the court fees and the costs of the case other than the legal fees of the accused in the case of the defendant hiring legal representation.
- Deadlines – Those who are making a civil claim have a limited amount of time to file the claim to court. These deadlines go by the name of extinctive prescription. The deadlines are different, depending on the case.
For criminal cases there is usually no deadline when it comes to the more serious of crimes, i.e. there is usually no statute of limitation. One exception are cases which can be punishable by means of summary conviction – the deadline is a year after the crime.
- Evidence – In order to be found guilty, the party who has taken the case to court must prove that their story, that is, their account of the event is more realistic and probable than that of the other party.
As for criminal cases, though, the government has to convince the jury or the judge that there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Should the government fail to provide ample evidence to support their claim, the defendant has to be found innocent.
- Sentences – Civil case sentences usually come in the form of a monetary compensation, and there can be no imprisonment unless the judge finds an individual in contempt.
When it comes to criminal cases, there’s a variety of potential sentences, ranging from fines, community work, and prison time.
What are the functions of civil and criminal courts?
Criminal and civil courts are different in several major respects. However, all that boils down to these three distinct characteristics of these courts:
- Definition of courts – Criminal courts at all the levels – federal, local, and state, have jurisdiction over all the infringements of the law that involve those activities defined as criminal, including assault, arson, theft, etc.
Civil courts preside over individuals’ private rights. That means that civil courts are in charge of various disputes, violations, etc.
- Burden of proof – Criminal and civil courts also function differently when it comes to establishing the burden of proof. In criminal courts, it means proving that the defendant has performed a criminal activity beyond a reasonable doubt, i.e. that there is no doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime.
Civil court proceedings are different – the plaintiff brings the case to court, and it is this person who has to prove it more likely that the defendant is responsible for the situation that has occurred. Finally, if there is sufficient burden of proof, the defendant is found liable, not guilty.
- Legal penalties – Finally, these two courts are able to issue different types of punishments. In criminal cases, there are clear sentencing guidelines which the judge must abide by, and the sentence can include fines, probation, and incarceration.
Civil courts usually issue an order to the defendant who has been found guilty, instructing the person to pay damages to the plaintiff. Sometimes, the jury can also award the plaintiff punitive damages.
“Where can I find the leading defense attorney in San Diego, CA?”
If you’re in legal trouble, don’t waste your time trying to relieve the stress with a visit to the San Diego Zoo. Instead, why not get some actual legal advice from the finest law firm in San Diego – Monder Criminal Lawyer Group.
Vik Monder’s team of superstar criminal defense attorneys is always hard at work trying to find the best legal solutions for our clients. We have years of experience behind us, and we do our job well. Come to our offices for a legal consultation today!