Understanding the Difference between Civil and Criminal Cases
Determining the difference between civil and criminal cases is an important distinction that bears upon an individual’s legal situation when he or she has been harmed by another party. While there are many differences between these two types of cases, one of the most fundamental differences is that in civil cases, the plaintiff files a lawsuit against another individual or business, known as the defendant, and in a criminal case, the state brings charges against the defendant through the district attorney’s office.
If you have been hurt due to the negligence or recklessness of another party, we can help you to determine whether a civil lawsuit might be appropriate. Contact the Oklahoma injury lawyers of the Abel Law Firm at (405) 239-7046 today.
Specifics of Civil and Criminal Cases
Apart from whether the action was against an individual or the state, there are a number of other differences between these two types of cases such as:
- The burden of proof is much higher in criminal cases than civil ones. The defendant must be guilty beyond all reasonable doubt in criminal cases. In civil cases, the defendant is found liable if more than half of the evidence presented suggests that they caused the plaintiff harm.
- Punishment is much more severe in criminal cases including fines, jail time, and in severe cases, the death penalty. Civil cases, by contrast, may result in fines, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and other consequences excluding incarceration.
- Criminal cases always go before a judge, whereas civil cases can be settled between the two parties involved.