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CIVIL VS. CRIMINAL CASES

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.



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