Differences Between Criminal and Civil Litigation

Generally speaking, litigation occurs when a person holds someone accountable for a wrong. If the plaintiff succeeds, they receive compensation for the other party’s actions. Civil suits can be filed over contract disputes, residential evictions, car accidents and other harms. Unlike criminal cases, where punishment against a wrongdoer is sought, civil cases are intended to compensate victims. Read on to learn how criminal and civil litigation are different.

Anyone Can File a Civil Suit

Private parties who have suffered damage typically instigate civil cases. By comparison, prosecutors representing the government bring criminal cases.

A Lighter Burden of Proof

The standard of proof in civil cases is a “preponderance of the evidence”, which means that it’s more than likely that the plaintiff’s allegations are true. In criminal cases, the government has to show the defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, which is a much stricter standard.

A Civil Case’s Loser Pays with Money Rather Than Serving Time

The stakes in litigation are usually measured in dollars. Plaintiffs ask courts to enter a judgment in their favor. If they prevail, the judgment is often handed down with a court order requiring the defendant to pay a certain amount in damages. Compare that to criminal cases, where defendants typically face probation, jail time, fines, community service or a combination of penalties.

A Personal Injury Claim Is a Type of Litigation

In the context of a personal injury case, civil litigation typically starts with the filing of a complaint in the local civil court. Common personal injury actions include those arising from auto accidents, slip-and-falls, defamation of character, malpractice, product defects, and torts. Anyone suffering harm because of any of these situations should consult an injury attorney to determine their possible legal remedies.

While filing a civil suit is the beginning of most personal injury actions, plaintiffs should consider that most of these cases will be settled long before they make it to trial. In fact, many injury cases are solved through negotiations before the lawsuit is filed. For help with personal injury or civil litigation, consult attorney P. Scott De Bruin today. You can connect with them on Facebook for more updates!

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