Today we spent the afternoon in both Civil and Criminal court.
We are frequently asked to explain some of the differences between Civil and Criminal court.
1. Moving Party: In a Criminal case, the State Attorney represents the State and brings forward the charges against the alleged Defendant. In a Civil case, the Plaintiff is the moving party wherein they will allege that the Defendant owed them a legal duty and have no suffered economic and/or non-economic damages.
2. Legal Representation: In a Criminal case, a Defendant is entitled to an attorney and if they cannot afford one then the government must provide an attorney. In a Civil case, the Defendant does not have the right to an attorney so they may have to represent themselves (not a good idea) if they cannot afford one.
3. Standard of Proof: The State Attorney has to prove their case “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” while the Plaintiff has a lower standard of proving their case by a “Preponderance of the Evidence".
4. Remedies: A Criminal case may result in jail time and/or monetary payments, while in a Civil case the Plaintiff may be awarded economic and/or non-economic damages or even an order instructing the Defendant to refrain from doing certain things (Injunction).
5. Acts: In some cases, an act may result in both a “Civil” and “Criminal” consequence. For example, Ali punches Holmes in the nose at a football game. Ali may be civilly liable to Holmes for economic (medical bills, lost wages) and/or non-economic (pain and suffering) damages. Ali may also be criminally liable to Holmes if the State Attorney files battery charges against him.
6. Attorney Fees: Criminal cases typically involve flat fee arrangements while Civil cases are typically handled by the attorney on a contingency.
We are here to help you if you have a legal question.
Attorney Edgar J. Guzman
Guzman Legal, P.A.