Criminal vs. Civil Cases: Understanding Important Differences

Under the law, many different types of cases could result from one circumstance. This may be difficult to understand, as any one incident often involves many legal principles and theories for legal claims to be based on. Car accidents are one type of claim that causes confusion because the accidents may result in both criminal and civil cases. While both types of cases are intended to obtain justice, criminal and civil proceedings are designed to obtain different results.

If you or your loved one has been injured in an accident or incident, an experienced civil attorney can help you obtain monetary compensation for your injury. The attorneys at Colombo Law are experienced litigators who can help you obtain relief.

Criminal vs. Civil Proceedings: Different Intentions

Civil and criminal proceedings are meant to accomplish different things. Criminal proceedings are intended to punish an individual for his or her criminal wrongdoing. In many criminal cases, the victim does not get compensated for damages. The main type of “justice” received by victims is ordering the offender to serve a specific amount of jail time.

In a civil personal injury cases, a victim’s main type of relief is monetary compensation for injuries sustained. In this type of proceeding, the main goal is not to punish the wrongdoer except in particularly egregious circumstances when punitive damages awarded. Instead, the main purpose is to compensate the victim in a way that makes him or her whole again. In civil cases, the judge wants to place a victim back in the financial position they were in before the time of the accident or incident. Many times, when monetary compensation for pain and suffering is added in, awards surpass the amount of actual damages.

Criminal vs. Civil Proceedings: Different Burdens of Proof

Meeting the required burden of proof is the single most important part of any case, regardless of whether the case is criminal or civil. The legal burden of proof is the duty placed on parties who initiate court actions. The jury in both civil and criminal trials cannot assign blame or guilt unless these standards are met.

In civil cases, the plaintiff must prove his or her assertions by a preponderance of the evidence. In these cases, a jury must find that more than 50% of the evidence weighs in favor of the plaintiff. If the jury believes it is more likely than not the defendant was guilty of the conduct alleged, then the plaintiff should be successful.

In criminal matters, the burden of proof on the state is higher than the burden for any other type of proceeding. Because criminal cases often involves restraining one’s freedom, the state is required to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means the state must show that a defendant committed a crime to a degree that does not leave any other logical explanation a to whether a crime was committed and whether it was committed by the person asserted.

About Colombo Law

Colombo Law is a full service personal injury law firm located in and around West Virginia. We represent victims who are physically or financially injured as a result of negligence. For a risk-free initial consultation, contact Colombo Law today.

by Colombo Law
Last updated on - Originally published on