Everyone needs to know your countries’ judicial system’s ins and outs to be fully informed and functioning citizens. The difference between criminal and civil law is just one thing you should know about your countries laws.
If you want to learn more about criminal law and civil law, then you’ll want to keep reading!
What is Criminal Law
When looking at the difference between criminal and civil law, we’ll start with the denser law.
Criminal law is usually on display in the news and tv shows like Law and Order. But it’s a little more complicated than what is portrayed on television or in the news.
There are quite a few steps involved before and after a criminal trial, and they all vary dependant on the crime.
Criminal law is always a federal matter meaning the highest level of justice is used, and cases are made against the state’s accused. Criminal law covers everything from white-collar crimes like money laundering to murders.
The First Process
The criminal law process begins at the moment a crime is committed.
Police begin to investigate a crime and can either lead the crime back to one person or begin to gather suspects to narrow down their search.
Once the individual is caught, they are arrested and accused of the crime committed. At this point, they are brought into the prison system and arraigned in front of a judge. This means they are told what they are accused of and when the trial will take place.
The accused individual will either spend this time waiting in prison for a serious crime or letting out on bail to await their trial at home.
The Second Process
Once the accused individual’s trial happens, they are defended for their crimes by lawyers or solicitors and accused by the Attorney General for their crimes. The judgment can either be made by only the judge or a trial by peers, also known as a jury.
When the decision is made on the individual’s innocence or guilt, they are officially charged with the crime listed under criminal law legislation and receive their sentence.
Criminal law will often dictate the type of punishment for the crime they are charged with via ‘jurisprudence’ or ‘previous decisions,’ and sentences of this case matter.
The individual is then required to complete their punishment and be registered as a criminal in the state and federal registries.
Who is Involved
There are quite a few people involved in the criminal law process.
First, there are lawmakers, politicians, senators, and the president who put together new criminal laws. The police enforce those laws, and the legal system comprised of judges, attorneys, and jurors punish lawbreakers.
The individuals on the receiving end of the law are citizens and lawbreakers, who, after being tried, are either criminals or citizens once more.
What is Civil Law
In contrast, civil law is a different ball game for figuring out the difference between criminal and civil law.
Civil law is much more simple than criminal law in that fewer people are involved in the process, but civil law contains different branches under its umbrella.
There are four main types of civil law: property, contracts, family relations, and civil wrongs, which is also known as tort law.
Each branch takes care of a different aspect of the law, from home purchases to divorces to car accident injuries, and each matter is handled differently.
Property law is used most during home purchases when purchase registrations are made and land titles are changed. This is easily done in a lawyer’s office with a signature from you and the property lawyer.
Contract law under civil law usually occurs when agreements are made between companies or between companies and employees. Typically a lawyer will look over agreements to make sure they are legally sound and take up any disputes or contractual wrongdoing into court proceedings.
Family relations take place during marriages, divorces, adoptions, and custody arrangements. Usually, a lawyer and mediator are overseeing negotiations and contract agreements in these instances.
Finally, civil wrongdoings take up the majority of civil law proceedings.
Civil wrongdoings are when an individual sues another person for something they did wrong that either hurt them or their property physically, emotionally or mentally. Usually, you’ll see insurance cases under this category.
Court Proceedings in Civil Law
Court proceedings do not often happen unless the matter is serious enough to warrant a judge getting involved.
The judge will listen to both parties state their claims and judge which one they agree with. There are no juries or state/federal attorneys present.
When a judge is not required, the two lawyers representing the two parties will sort that matter out themselves with bargaining and arguing claims. Sometimes a mediator will be brought in to talk solutions out peacefully and productively.
Who is Involved
The difference between criminal and civil law when it comes to who is involved is much simpler.
Two lawyers represent the defendant and the prosecutor, or two interested parties, sometimes a judge and sometimes a mediator.
There is rarely police involved in these proceedings unless their statements or presence is required, and there is no formal set of laws that dictate a specific outcome or decision.
Knowing The Difference Between Criminal and Civil Law
Every citizen is responsible for knowing and understanding the various laws and the difference between criminal and civil law. It’s good to know, especially if you ever find yourself needing to use either criminal law or civil law in your future.
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