The National Trial Lawyers

What Are the Differences Between Civil and Criminal Cases?

Civil and criminal cases are both legal matters, but that’s about the only similarity they have in common. A person charged a criminal offense will need the services of a criminal defense attorney in Denver, CO. A person who is a party to a civil case will also need a lawyer’s help, but usually, felony defense attorneys do not work on civil cases. Instead, the individual would turn to a lawyer who regularly handles lawsuits. law - criminal

Subject of the Case

A criminal case involves the alleged violation of criminal law. These are crimes against the state or against society. Some common examples include robbery, burglary, murder, and sexual assault. Although the crime has a specific victim, this person does not pursue the case against the offender—the state does. In contrast, a civil case considers whether someone has negligently or intentionally committed wrongdoing against another person. The act of wrongdoing is not necessarily a criminal violation, although it can be in some cases. It’s possible for one incident to result in both criminal charges and civil litigation. One famous example is the O.J. Simpson case. He was found not guilty in criminal court, but was later found liable in a civil wrongful death lawsuit.

Parties in the Case

In a criminal case, the accused person is the defendant. If the defendant is found guilty, he or she becomes a convict. A felony defense attorney represents the defendant, and the prosecutor presents the case against the defendant. In other words, the prosecutor tries to incarcerate the defendant, and the criminal defense attorney tries to preserve his or her freedom. In a criminal case, the victim may be a testifying witness. In a civil case, the person who was wronged becomes a plaintiff upon filing a lawsuit. The person against whom the lawsuit is filed is the defendant.

Standard of Proof

Criminal cases require defendants to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard of proof. It means that defense lawyers do not have to prove that a defendant is innocent, as long as there is a reasonable doubt as to whether he or she committed the crime. In contrast, the standard of proof in a civil case is lower. A defendant only needs to be found liable by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, it’s more likely than not that the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s losses.

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