The Difference Between Criminal And Civil Defense: What You Need To Know

Legal 4 Mins Read July 1, 2023 Posted by Arnab

When a person finds themselves charged with breaking the law in some way, it can be a concerning experience. This experience is only made worse when you don?t actually understand what you are being charged with and what the potential implications could be in terms of punishment.

Hiring a defense lawyer can help a person navigate some of these nuances but taking the time to learn the basics of the legal system is a great starting point. To that end, all people should understand the difference between a criminal and civil trial in order to determine which type of their case will fall under.

Criminal Vs. Civil Trials: What Is The Difference?

The difference between criminal and civil trials starts with the difference between criminal and civil law. In the legal system, matters of civil law typically involve disputes between people or organizations and the rights that those groups have, with a verdict determining which party is right or wrong.

On the other hand, criminal trials deal with violations of criminal law, which refer to crimes against other people. The verdict in a criminal case will determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence that a person committed the act against the other person. Criminal cases tend to be prosecuted by state officials, whereas civil cases tend to be restrained to a simple plaintiff vs. defendant situation.

How Is A Civil Trial Verdict Determined?

One major difference between a criminal trial and a civil trial is that a person only needs to prove their case with a preponderance of the evidence, unlike with a criminal case. This means that they only need to provide a certain degree of proof in order to win their case. Depending on the details of the trial, this evidence will be evaluated by either a jury or a judge alone.

How Is A Criminal Trial Verdict Determined?

In a criminal trial, however, the evidence must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which simply means that there can be no other reasonable explanation for what occurred. For example, if a person is on trial for murdering another person and all evidence points to them being at the scene when the murder occurred, with that evidence being incriminating, then the jury may find that they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

How Long Do Civil And Criminal Trials Last?

The length of a civil trial can be extremely variable depending on the complexity of the issues presented and how long the jurors actually deliberate the facts of the case. However, the majority of civil trials will last somewhere between three to seven days. This does not take into account the fact that the majority of civil cases never reach a courtroom, as most are often resolved through mediation or arbitration.

On the other side of things, criminal trials tend to last a far longer time than civil trials given the amount of evidence and what is at stake. Straightforward cases can be as quick as a civil trial and be over within a few days, but criminal cases often extend for multiple weeks at a time before a jury comes to a verdict.

The Difference In Punishments For Civil And Criminal Lawsuits

The other primary difference between a civil lawsuit and a criminal lawsuit is the level of punishment that comes with each type. Civil lawsuits typically result in a person being charged with fines, but they can also result in prison time in certain situations. On the other hand, criminal cases often start with prison time as a default punishment on top of far more serious fines than a person faces with civil charges.

As a note, criminal cases that are tried on the federal level will result in even harsher punishments than those described above. A person convicted of federal criminal charges will be put in a federal prison, which typically has far more security and a more dangerous population than a general prison.

Nobody should build a legal defense by themselves, even if they are a practicing lawyer. Always take the time to research effective defense lawyers in your area who can assist with the legal process. At the very least, having a lawyer takes dealing with legal paperwork and some of the legwork of the case off of your hands. Seek recommendations from friends and family for effective lawyers who can assist you today.

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Arnab Dey is a passionate blogger who loves to write on different niches like technologies, dating, finance, fashion, travel, and much more.

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