Many people don’t realize this, but when a person has to go to court there is a very different process for individuals going through a civil case than a criminal case. Each type of legal matter has its own set of rules to follow, and it can be confusing to know what the real differences are. Here are some examples of how you can tell apart a civil lawyer and a criminal lawyer.
- Civil lawyers have different standards than what criminal lawyers do, as in criminal cases in order to reach a verdict the defendant must be guilty beyond reasonable doubt where as in civil law suits it just needs to be likely that the person in question is guilty. There are different sets of evidence for the two types of law as well, as criminal law really needs hard evidence whereas civil law doesn’t require evidence in the same fashion in the eyes of the court.
- Most people know that if you are being accused of a crime, you can either hire your own lawyer or the state will appoint one to you. However, if you are being sued for something this does not justify good enough reason for the government to give you a lawyer. If this is the position you end up finding yourself in, you will have to find your own representation and pay for it yourself.
- Criminal lawyers always represent the defendants; they never speak for the plaintiff. Even in a criminal case the victims are represented by a civil lawyer, it is never the other way around. It can be confusing this way sometimes, but typically a criminal lawyer is referred to as a prosecutor or district attorney instead of just a regular lawyer.
- It is also a known fact that civil lawyers only represent clients when there is money at stake, because criminal lawyers can’t charge fees if their clients lose a case. In addition to that, there is no such thing as a civil law suit that ends in someone going to jail, which is why many cases on programs such as “Judge Judy” and “People’s Court” can be aired on television for these kinds of legal matters.
- When it comes to who’s filing for what kind of case, it is always the standard that a criminal case will be issued by the government and a civil case will be done so by a private institution or company. Basically, there can never be a criminal case run by a person or private property place, and the government can’t start a civil case.
- The resolution of a criminal case will always have either jail time or no jail time, whereas for a civil case it will be money or no money. It will never be the other way around as each kind of courthouse has its own set of rules on this kind of matter in the legal world.
- When a jury is in on a case and listening to all the facts, there are also a few differences between criminal and civil cases. For example, in a criminal case the jury must be unanimous when convicting or not convicting someone, which is why that some cases can take several days to find an agreement between those selected for the case. For civil cases, it may not be necessary to have a unanimous vote and each law can vary from state to state, and country to country. It also depends on the content of the case and what may be a good way to solve things depending on its sensitivity too.
Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney with the firm Bandré, Hunt & Snider, LLC where they are the leading personal injury attorneys in Jefferson City MO.