Differences Between Civil & Criminal Law

The legal system applies criminal law to cases that could involve punishment that includes incarceration. All other types of legal cases represent matters of civil law.  For most individuals, legal issues fall under the purview of civil law, including divorce, child custody, estate disputes, personal injury lawsuits, guardianship petitions, and contract disputes. 

civil vs criminal law

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 Only public authorities at the local, state, and federal level may initiate criminal cases. The lawyers at Webster & Garino litigate both civil and criminal matters. You can consult an Indiana lawyer knowledgeable about the area of law applicable to your situation. 

 Key Differences Between Civil and Criminal Cases

 The outcome of a civil case typically does not require the imprisonment of an individual.  If a person is found to be in contempt, the Court in a civil action could order time in jail as a sanction for contempt of Court. The punishment most often sought by plaintiffs in civil cases involves the recovery of monetary damages from a defendant, such as an automobile accident personal injury lawsuit. Pursuing unpaid child support represents another common type of civil case that is about money. 

 Money is not necessarily the goal of some civil cases. Asking a court to make you the guardian of an incapacitated person is an example of a civil action that would end with a judge either approving or denying the petition. 

 Anyone, including individuals and companies, may initiate a civil case by filing the appropriate complaint with a civil court. The plaintiffs and defendants bear the cost of civil cases. 

 In contrast, public funds finance the prosecution of criminal cases. Publicly-employed attorneys decide whether a criminal complaint will go to court. A criminal defendant has the option of hiring a Carmel Indiana lawyer to manage the defense. In both criminal and civil cases trials can be conducted by a judge or jury.

 Criminal cases must meet a higher burden of proof than civil cases. Jurors must overcome all reasonable doubts before returning a guilty verdict. Jurors in civil cases, however, must consider only the preponderance of evidence. This means that they base their decision upon what the majority of evidence suggests. 

 Can a Case Be Both Criminal and Civil?

 Some situations can call for the involvement of both civil and criminal courts. The classic example would be a fatal car accident that triggered a wrongful death lawsuit by the surviving family against the negligent driver and a criminal charge of vehicular manslaughter. 

 Answers for Your Legal Questions

 Webster & Garino practices in multiple civil areas, like family law, business law, real estate law, probate and estate planning, and provides criminal defense services. You can schedule a complimentary case review with a Carmel Indiana lawyer by calling (317) 565-1818.


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