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What Is the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Court?

Courts deal with many different cases, from minor infractions like speeding tickets to divorces, lawsuits, and everything in between.

When it comes to where and how cases are heard, there are two types of courts – criminal and civil. Knowing the differences between civil and criminal cases is essential, as these can vary greatly.

Criminal Courts vs. Civil Courts

Criminal laws apply when someone commits a crime that goes against the established rules of jurisdiction. Crimes typically involve an arrest by law enforcement. When a person is charged with a crime, the criminal courts will handle the case from start to finish.

Some examples of cases that criminal laws handle include:

  • Violent crimes
  • Theft and robbery
  • Drug-related charges
  • Fraud and embezzlement 

Civil laws encompass almost anything that’s not a crime but may be a reason for litigation. In civil cases, there’s no punishment involved, and parties are not held in custody. Generally, civil courts look to resolve disputes between individuals or entities like companies and banks.

Some common civil cases include:

  • Bankruptcies
  • Divorces
  • Child custody
  • Housing matters
  • Personal injuries
  • Civil rights

While a criminal judgment can result in criminal punishment, civil judgments typically look to award monetary damages or resolve a dispute. 

Criminal Procedures 

Criminal cases are brought forward by state or federal prosecutors, who present their findings and try to prove a crime occurred. On the other hand, defense attorneys look to provide relief for the accused party.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys often negotiate to resolve a matter. Other times, the case may proceed to a trial, where a jury of citizens decides the case’s outcome.

Civil Procedures

The courts may hear arguments regarding various non-criminal topics to make a ruling in civil cases. Some types of cases are decided directly by a judge. Both parties will usually present evidence and argue in their own favor.

Other civil cases may proceed to a trial, similar to criminal courts, where a jury of peers from the community will make the decision. 

Legal Counsel in Tampa

Shrader & Mendez, Attorneys at Law, represent civil and criminal cases throughout Tampa, FL. Call us today for a free consultation at (813) 360-1529.

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