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Castle Law Office

Q
What's the Difference Between Criminal and Civil Lawsuits?

A

Civil lawsuits occur when individuals have a disagreement involving what legal responsibilities they may or may not have with each other. Criminal lawsuits, however, involve felonies and misdemeanors — specific crimes with punishment attached. Civil and criminal lawsuits differ in the following categories:

Penalties. In criminal cases, offenders receive punishment via jail time and fines. In civil cases, monetary compensation is the most common penalty. The court can also order someone to do something (like pay child support) or stop doing something (like harassment).

Burden of proof. For someone to be convicted in a criminal case, his or her fault needs to be proved “beyond reasonable doubt.” This is because the penalties for criminal cases are much more severe. For civil lawsuits, however, the standard of proof is lower: by “the preponderance of evidence.” In other words, a lawyer has to prove the party's responsibility is more likely than not.

Trial type. Most criminal cases involve a trial by jury. While some civil cases require a jury, most civil cases resolve through settlement negotiations, not through the court system.

Attorneys. Defendants in a criminal case are guaranteed to have a lawyer provided for them by the state if they can’t afford one. In civil courts, there's no such guarantee. A defendant must hire a lawyer or represent him or herself.

A personal injury claim is considered a civil claim rather than criminal. Our personal injury lawyers assist people who've been injured in an accident to file a personal injury claim and begin the negotiations process with the insurance companies.

Call us today at 816-842-7100 to speak with an attorney that will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Or you can click here to email us and schedule your free consultation. 

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