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Understanding the Differences Between Civil vs. Criminal Cases

Unless you have legal training, you may not know much about how the law is divided into criminal and civil matters. Understanding the difference can help you identify which type of lawyer you need to locate when you need help with a legal issue.  

What’s the Difference Between Criminal and Civil Cases?

Criminal cases involve crimes. When someone is arrested and charged with breaking the law, they go to court for a criminal case. If they’re found guilty, they’ll face legal penalties like jail time and fines. 

Civil cases are a way of seeking legal justice for matters that don’t necessarily involve a crime. Personal injury cases are the most common type of civil case. They allow individuals to seek financial compensation for things like car accident injuries or medical malpractice.

Can Legal Cases Be Both Civil and Criminal?

Technically, a case cannot be both civil and criminal at the same time. These terms refer to different bodies of law and involve different courts. However, the same incident or accident can end up at the center of both a criminal case and a civil case. 

A good example of this is a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver. Driving while intoxicated is a criminal offense. If someone is seriously injured or killed in a DUI crash, the driver can face additional, serious criminal charges. 

The criminal charges exist to punish the driver for breaking the law. However, they usually don’t do much to help the deceased or injured victim and their loved ones. In this case, the victim or their relatives can also file a civil lawsuit against the driver. 

The criminal case punishes the illegal acts, while the civil case compensates the victim for the financial and emotional impact of the crash. 

Learn How Our Tampa Law Firm Can Help

At Shrader Mendez & O’Connell, our experienced attorneys handle both criminal and civil cases for clients in the Tampa area. Call us at (813) 360-1529 to learn how we can help with your case.

Posted in Criminal Defense