Understanding the Law: The Difference between Criminal & Civil Litigation

At first glance, civil and criminal disputes are considered legal cases in the court of law. They might even have a relatively similar trial process. But, if you look closer, these two have stark differentiation from each other. In both cases, individuals or the parties that are involved, have concluded that the disagreement between them is unlikely to be resolved among themselves.


It is at this point that the involved parties will require mediators, arbitrators and that legal intervention might be necessary to resolve these disputes. If you’re interested in understanding more about this topic, then this article will help you figure out what proper legal action should you pursue when you’ve come across any dispute.


Criminal Cases


Criminal cases are typically handled by local, state, and federal courts. Along with the party or person who’s pressing the charges, these cases require the presence of a grand jury, prosecutor, district attorney, and the defendant/s. For the crimes under criminal cases, these are usually defined as actions or disputes that violate the public law. 


According to a law firm that specialises in criminal litigation, for defendants who are facing criminal cases, it’s also possible for them to be charged with civil suits. This will give the plaintiff/victims to collect cost for the damages and/or losses the dispute may have caused them. Below are some of the primary categories that fall under criminal case:


  • Personal Crimes – these are the crimes that resulted in physical or mental harm to another person or party. Personal crimes can be divided into two forms – homicide and violent crimes. Assault and battery, child and domestic abuse, kidnapping, etc. are some of the examples of personal crimes.


  • Property Crimes – these are the crimes that involved intrusion or interference of someone else’s property. Theft, burglary, larceny, robbery, etc. are some of the crimes that fall under property crimes.


  • Inchoate Crimes – refer to unfinished or incomplete crimes and actions that attempt to assist or commit another crime. Attempt, conspiracy, and solicitations are some of the most common charges that are under inchoate crimes. 


  • Statutory Crimes – these pertain to the violations of a specific state or federal statutes. Alcohol-related crimes, like DUI (driving under influence), selling alcohol to minors, etc. are some of the crimes that you can classify as statutory crimes.


  • Financial Crimes – these are cases that usually involve deception and fraud for one’s financial gain. Embezzlement, money laundering, tax evasion, and other financial related crimes are some of the examples of this type of crime.



Civil Cases


Civil litigation, on the other hand, is a legal process wherein criminal charges and penalties are not at issue. As opposed to criminal cases, civil cases are non-criminal disputes in which the plaintiff seeks compensation for the damages and/or losses from the defendants. Unlike with criminal cases, civil cases often end with monetary settlement. The outcome of the charge is also decided by the judge. 


By knowing these key differences between criminal and civil litigation, you know what’s involved with both situations. It’ll give you more realistic expectations of what’s going to happen in your case and how it will work.

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