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Comparison Chart: Civil and Criminal Law

Civil Law Criminal Law

Definition Civil law deals with the disputes between Criminal law is the body of law that
individuals, organizations, or between the two, in deals with crime and the legal
which compensation is awarded to the victim. punishment of criminal offenses.

Purpose To deal with the disputes between individuals, To maintain the stability of the state
organizations, or between the two, in which and society by punishing offenders
compensation is awarded to the victim. and deterring them and others from

Case filed Private party Government: Prosecutors, District

by Attorneys, U.S. Attorneys

Rights Parties must pay for their own attorneys, fees and Defendant entitled to counsel, right to
court costs. due process, speedy trial, right against
self-incrimination, right to be free
from unreasonable searches and

Decision Defendant can be found liable or not liable, the Jury determines guilt or innoncence.
judge or jury decides this. If guilty, Defendant is convicted. If not
guilty, the Defendant is acquitted.

Standard of "Preponderance of evidence." Claimant must "Beyond a reasonable doubt":

proof produce evidence beyond the balance of

Burden of Claimant must give proof however, the burden may "Innocent until proven guilty": The
proof shift to the defendant in situations of Res Ipsa prosecution must prove defendant
Loquitur (The thing speaks for itself). guilty.

Type of Compensation ($$) for injuries or damages. JAIL: A guilty defendant is subject to
Remedies Custodial (imprisonment) or Non-
custodial punishment (fines or
community service). In exceptional
cases, the death penalty.
Civil Law Criminal Law

Examples Landlord/tenant disputes, divorce proceedings, Theft, assault, robbery, trafficking in

child custody proceedings, property disputes, controlled substances, murder, etc.,
personal injury, mental state requirements

Appeals Either party (claimant or defendant) can appeal a Only the defendant may appeal a
court's decision. Parties must bear their own costs. court's verdict. The prosecution is not
allowed to appeal.

Jury opinion In cases of civil law, the opinion of the jury may not In the criminal justice system, the jury
have to be unanimous. Laws vary by state and must agree unanimously before a
country. Juries are present almost exclusively in defendant is convicted.
criminal cases; virtually never involved in civil
actions. Judges ensure law prevails over passion.

Judgments Not self-executing. Must seek to enforce Court sentences Defendant