The Difference between Civil and Criminal Cases
A common concern for many people without any formal law education or experience is differentiating between a civil and a criminal case. One of the most fundamental differences between these two cases is that crimes are generally offenses deemed to pose a threat to the public and therefore prosecuted by the state, while civil cases are disputes brought against individuals or corporations by those whom they have harmed.
Understanding the difference between these two types of cases can be very complicated and confusing. An experienced legal representative can help explain the distinctions and help you to determine if it is appropriate to pursue civil action. For more information about your legal options, contact the San Antonio personal injury attorneys of Chris Mayo Injury Lawyers at (210) 999-9999 today.
Civil versus Criminal Cases
Though there are many more, the following represents some of the most important elements distinguishing civil and criminal cases from each other:
- Criminal cases are prosecuted by the state. Therefore, the crime is filed by a prosecutor instead of the victim. In civil cases, the injured victim (plaintiff) would file the case.
- Civil cases can be handled outside of court between the plaintiff, defendant, and each party’s legal representation, while criminal cases always go before a judge, and a jury will be assembled if the case goes to trial.
- While civil cases typically end with the defendant paying the plaintiff monetary damages, criminal cases have much more severe penalties. Punishment for criminal cases typically involves large fines or jail time.
The “burden of proof” is much higher in criminal cases than civil ones. An individual has to be guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases, whereas a defendant in a civil case may be found liable if it is simply more likely than not that they caused the plaintiff harm.
For more information about your legal options or if you have questions about whether you should pursue civil action, contact the San Antonio personal injury lawyers of Chris Mayo Injury Lawyers at (210) 999-9999.