The law plays an important role in protecting our civil liberties and holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions. When it comes to experiencing a personal injury, and the damage and losses that come with it, you might be wondering if your case is civil or criminal. Well, some personal injury cases involve both civil and criminal penalties, while others are strictly civil.
Continue reading to learn some facts about the difference between civil law and criminal law for better understanding of your personal injury case and what you might expect during your legal process.
Facts About the American Legal System
The American legal system is primarily a common law system, which means that judicial decisions setting precedent are a primary source of law. However, the United States federal government and some states have adopted civil law systems in some respects. In a civil law system, courts base their decisions on codes and statutes rather than judicial precedents. There are two main types of courts in the American legal system: civil courts and criminal courts. Civil courts deal with disputes between individuals or businesses, while criminal courts deal with cases brought by the government against individuals or businesses accused of breaking the law.
While both civil and criminal courts follow similar procedures, there are some key differences between the two. For instance, in a criminal court, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. In a civil court, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is liable. Another key difference is that criminal courts can impose punishments such as jail time or fines, while civil courts can only issue orders such as requiring the payment of damages.
Criminal law in the United States is defined by federal, state, and local statutes. Federal criminal law deals with crimes that are in violation of federal law. State criminal law deals with crimes that are in violation of state laws. Crimes are divided into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes that are punishable by up to one year in jail. Felonies are more serious crimes that are punishable by more than one year in prison.
Civil law is the branch of law that deals with disputes between individuals and/or organizations, typically over issues like property ownership, contracts and personal injury. It is different from criminal law, which deals with offenses committed in violation of criminal statutes. In the United States, civil law is based on English common law and statutory law. This means that judges will often look to past court decisions (precedents) when ruling on a case as well as any applicable statutes. If there is no relevant precedent, they will use logic and reasoning (analogies) to come to a decision. Civil law is generally divided into two main categories: substantive law and procedural law. Substantive law deals with the rights and duties of parties involved in a dispute, while procedural law sets out the rules and procedures of the court that must be followed in order to have the dispute heard by a court.
Are you a Hoosier who is ready to learn your legal rights after being wrongly injured by a negligent party? Contact the Law Office of Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a no-risk, no-fee personal injury evaluation to explore your eligibility, today. We represent clients all throughout the state of Indiana and Indiana residents injured in other states.