Differences Between Criminal and Civil Litigation

Civil and criminal litigation are two distinct fields of law. Criminal law broadly covers matters which are related to public safety and involve the police. This can include theft, assault and so on.

Civil law is concerned with matters which also fall under commercial litigation and are related to individuals or groups of people, such as companies. Breach of contract, tenancy disputes, neighbour disputes and guardianship are some examples of civil disputes. In this blog, Resolute Legal provides a simple guide to understanding the difference between civil and criminal litigation.

Civil Vs. Criminal Litigation

The key differences between criminal law and civil litigation are as follows:

  • Civil law is concerned with responsibilities between individuals, while criminal law allows complaints to be made against those who violate the criminal code.
  • Civil disputes deal with compensating victims for the damages caused to them by another individual or entity. Criminal cases are concerned with alleged violations of the criminal code and similar Legislation.
  • A civil court determines if someone has suffered a loss as a result of another’s act or omission or determining if someone is entitled to some form of compensation or relief. Criminal courts, however, determine whether a person or entity has engaged in conduct amounting to a criminal offense.
  • Civil cases are heard by a judge alone and would cover everything from commercial litigation suits to neighbour disputes. Criminal cases may involve a jury, especially for serious crimes such as murder or manslaughter.
  • In a civil dispute, each party must pay for their own representation. In a criminal case, however, an individual is prosecuted by the government, represented in court by prosecutors representing the police or lawyers from the Director of Public Prosecutions. A defendant may be represented by a lawyer or act on their own behalf. If someone is charged with a criminal offense and is unable to pay for a lawyer, they can seek financial assistance from Legal Aid.
  • The Standard of proof differs in both kinds of cases. In a civil case, the standard of proof is determined on the balance of probabilities. Simply put, in a civil case, you must prove that it is more probable than not to prove your case. A criminal case is held to a much higher standard of proof, and guilt must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Commercial Litigation and Criminal Law Experts in QLD

While criminal and civil litigation have a number of differences between them, there are conditions under which they may overlap. The key to success in either matter is to have legal representatives who have a keen understanding of both kinds of litigation to ensure that you are adequately protected.

Contact Resolute Legal today to speak to seasoned criminal and civil litigation practitioners.

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