Distinguishing Civil And Criminal Cases

Distinguishing Civil And Criminal Cases

In Uncategorized by Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, Attorneys at Law

Personal Injury Lawyer

A personal injury lawyer knows that 0ne source of confusion that people often notice when they are getting involved in the legal system is the distinction between civil cases and criminal ones. While there are a variety of procedural differences between the two, the main distinction between the two types of cases is that a civil suit takes place between two private parties where one person wants to be compensated for a perceived wrong, and criminal suits take place between the state and the accused as a way of seeking punishment for them. Confusion can arise because many times an incident can give rise to both a civil and a criminal trial. If a person assaults someone else, then they may be subject to criminal punishment, as well as a civil personal injury suit by the victim.

Who Is Involved

One of the major differences between civil and criminal cases is who is involved in the case. While the defendant can be the same in both cases, the party bringing the case changes. In civil suits, the party bringing the case is the plaintiff, a private citizen, or a company who wants the court to award them money or some legal right as a result of a harm that the defendant caused them. Conversely, criminal cases are not brought by the victim of the crime. Instead, they are brought by prosecutors, lawyers from some governmental entity like the U.S. Attorney’s or States Attorney’s office.

The reason for this difference is that civil and criminal cases are trying to solve different problems. Civil cases are about “making the injured party whole,” whereas criminal cases are brought by the state because crimes are supposed to be offenses not just against the victim, but against society as a whole. An important corollary of this is that the law breaks these suits into two separate categories because crimes are thought to be more serious or more morally wrong than the wrongdoing that gives rise to only civil cases. 

Different Outcomes

The fact that civil suits are brought by private people and criminal cases are brought by the government also changes the ultimate outcomes of the cases. In civil cases, the outcome is usually the awarding of monetary damages. The plaintiff shows that the defendant’s actions cost them a certain amount of money, and the court forces the defendant to pay the plaintiff an equal amount.

In criminal cases, the court will impose some punishment on the defendant, such as jail time. Importantly, there are many times when courts will punish the defendant using monetary fines. These fines are different than the money that changes hands in civil cases in two ways. First, the fines go to the government, not to the victim. Second, the fines are set by the legislature or the judge and do not necessarily reflect the actual damage the defendant caused to the victim.

Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm Today

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a crime, you may also have a civil lawsuit available. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you pursue for damages you may be entitled to for the losses your injuries have caused, including medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Call an experienced attorney, like an Arlington Heights, IL personal injury lawyer from a law firm like Therman Law Offices, LTD.