Distinguishing a Criminal Case from a Civil Case
When dealing with criminal defense, there are two main types of courts that handle initial legal action: criminal courts and civil courts. The civil court handles disputes between two parties over rights or obligations. The criminal court exists to punish an individual for a crime.
In criminal cases, a prosecutor initiates the case. This is different from a civil case where the victim is the initiator. Regardless of whether or not the victim in a criminal case wants to file charges against the other party, charges will be filed by the prosecutor for violating the law.
Only in criminal cases can people be sentenced to jail. In civil cases, people may be fined or have to relinquish property, but they cannot be incarcerated. The only exception is in civil cases where contempt has been found.
Proving a Case
In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”. However, in civil cases the plaintiff only must show “preponderance of the evidence”.
Defendants in almost all criminal cases are entitled to a jury trial. In civil cases, whether or not a jury is appointed can vary.
Both Civil and Criminal
Sometimes a person can be tried in civil and criminal court regarding the same incident. This was true in the case of OJ Simpson. Simpson was tried for murder and found not guilty. However, he was also sued for “wrongful death” by the victims’ families and found guilty. As a result, he paid millions of dollars but did not go to prison.
If you are facing criminal charges, contact the West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys of Eric N. Klein & Associates, P.A. today at 561-353-2800.