What’s the Difference Between a Civil Case and a Criminal Case?

Florida appeals lawyer

There are 1,268,011 lawyers in the United States, including criminal lawyers, appeals lawyers, DUI lawyers, robbery defense lawyers, and more. If you are not employed in the legal field, you might find that legal lingo can be hard to decipher. Here are some quick explanations in simpler terms.

What is a civil case?
A civil case is brought to court when a person or organization called the plaintiff accuses the defendent (another person or organization) of failing to complete a legal duty. The plaintiff is expecting the court to make the defendent carry out the duty, or the plaintiff is asking for compensation.

For example, an individual rents an apartment from a landlord. They have a legal agreement requiring the renter to pay the landlord every month. If the renter fails to pay, this is considered a breach of contract, and the landlord can file a civil suit against him.

Another kind of civil case involves personal injury. An example would be a customer at a restaurant who has told her server about her seafood allergy, but is then served an appetizer containing shrimp without warning. The customer can file a civil suit against the server or restaurant for negligence. the average compensation payout for injury lawsuits is $60,000.

What is criminal law?
While civil law involves private disputes between two parties, criminal law cases involve the prosecution of an individual or organization for breaking a local, state, or federal law by which he is somehow threatening public welfare or safety. Rather than another individual, in this case the government files charges against the accused.

There are a vast number of criminal acts that warrant a law suit by the government. They are categorized as either misdemeanor or felony, and can be violent, but they aren’t always. These cases are handled by federal criminal attorneys.

Felonies include:

  • Assault
  • Burglary and Robbery
  • Violent crime (murder, rape, aggravated assult)
  • Vandalism
  • Fraud
  • Weapons violations
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Disorderly conduct

Misdemeanors include:

  • Resisting arrest
  • Perjury
  • Violating a restraining order
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Traffic violations
  • Petty theft

A DUI lawyer is also considered a criminal lawyer, as a DUI can be either categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Civil lawsuits cost the United States economy approximately $239 billion every year, and the average U.S. citizen $812 annually.
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