What makes a criminal case vs. a civil case?

What makes a criminal case vs. a civil case?

Criminal cases are in general for crimes against the state and it is the state who makes up the prosecution. Civil cases are when disputes arise between two private parties, usually individuals regarding the legal duties citizens owe one another.

One difference between civil and criminal cases is the punishment involved. While criminal convictions can and generally do result in monetary fines, the key component is jail time. In civil cases, usually only money damages are ordered. Standards of proof are also dissimilar—criminal cases must be proven beyond reasonable doubt in order to preserve the "innocent until proven guilty" philosophy behind the justice system. Civil cases, on the other hand must be proved by "a preponderance of the evidence," which means the defendant was more than likely to blame.

Another difference is that where criminal cases are usually a trial by jury, civil cases for the most part are decided by a judge. Furthermore, a defendant in a criminal case has the right to an attorney and will be provided one by the state if they cannot afford one; defendants in a criminal case will need to pay for an attorney themselves or defend themselves.

It should be noted that some actions can result in both criminal and civil charges, such as in the OJ Simpson trial. In this case, a murder charge and wrongful death suit were filed for the same alleged act, a criminal and civil suit.

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