| Added On April 13, 2011
Many people have little to no experience with a civil lawsuit, and we understand that. We understand that the criminal justice system is far more familiar to people than the civil side simply because it is more heavily covered in news stories, television shows, movies and novels. If you are confused about what exactly the differences are between the criminal and civil sides of the law, we are here to help! Personal injury lawyers specialize in the realm of the legal system that deals with civil wrongs that citizens commit against one another. Read on to discover the differences and similarities between the civil and criminal justice systems.
- Types of Cases: The criminal justice system consists of the state versus the defendant. The parties are defined as the prosecutor, who represents the people of California, and the defendant, who allegedly committed an offense outlined as forbidden in the criminal code of California. In the civil justice system, the parties consist of the plaintiff and the defendant. Each party being a private citizen or corporation.
- Results: In a criminal case, the defendant is either found guilty or not guilty. If he is found guilty he may have to pay a fine and endure incarceration for a length of time determinate by the crime committed. In a civil case, the defendant is not “punished” but held liable for the injury to the plaintiff. He is not found guilty or not guilty, just liable or not liable.
- Burden: In the criminal context, the jury must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This standard is hard to quantify or define, as courts have tried to so for generations. In other words, it means that if a juror has a reasonably alternative, viable theory of the case, he must find the defendant not guilty because that juror has a reasonable doubt as to his guilt. However, the standard for liability is much lower in a civil case. The reason being the defendant has much less to lose than the criminal defendant. The burden to find a civil defendant liable is beyond a preponderance of the evidence. This standard means that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable to the plaintiff. It is a simple 51/49 comparison. If the jury is 51% sure the defendant is liable, they must find so.
- Jury: Both civil and criminal cases can have a jury. A jury in a criminal case is a constitutional right for the criminal defendant. The constitution does not provide for the right to a jury in a civil case, but many states have provided this right in their legislative codes. The California court system allows for a civil case to have a jury of up to twelve members if the plaintiff or defendant demands a jury. If the parties would like less jurors, they can agree to that if they so choose.
Please select our personal injury lawyers to review your case. We would love to discuss further the merits of choosing a personal injury lawsuit to resolve your claims against the party responsible for injuring you.