What Makes Criminal Case

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A crime is any act, or any omission of an act, in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it. Though there are some common law crimes, most crimes in the United States are established by local, state, and federal governments. Criminal laws vary significantly from state to state.

Crimes include both felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies, which are more serious, include rape and murders, while misdemeanors are less serious offenses, like petty theft or jaywalking. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is usually a misdemeanor, but if an individual has several such misdemeanor convictions, a subsequent charge for the same crime may be upgraded to a felony. The punishments for crimes can be fines, incarceration, probation, community service, or mandatory completion of a program such as drug treatment or anger management. However, persons found liable in a civil case may only have to give up property or pay money, but are not incarcerated.

There are a few obvious differences between crimes that are prosecuted under criminal law and under civil law. The largest difference is that criminal charges are brought when an individual or group of individuals breaks a law that was created by Congress or a state legislature. The government will then seek to punish those responsible for the criminal act. A civil case, on the other hand, usually has to do with a dispute over the rights and duties that individuals and organizations legally owe to each other. This may include disputes over verbal agreements or signed legal contracts.

There are various other differences that make a case a criminal case. In a criminal case a prosecutor, not the victim of the crime, will start and control the case. If the prosecutor sees that filing a suit is the correct course of action, they may do so without the approval of the victim. On the contrary, if a victim wants to file a suit, a prosecutor may also refuse. In a civil case, the victim is the one who files the suit. An individual or group that is accused of a crime and convicted may have to pay a fine, be incarcerated, or even both. Civil cases, however, may cause those involved to pay damages or give up property, but not to be put in jail or prison.

In criminal cases, if an accused party cannot afford the expense of hiring a private lawyer or attorney, the government will provide a public defender to take on the case. In civil cases, the individual will not be provided with a lawyer and will therefore have to defend themselves or find the means to hire one. In the United States, individuals remain innocent until proven guilty. This holds true whether in a criminal case, where the prosecutor has to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, or in a civil case, where the plaintiff must show only by a preponderance of the evidence, which equates to 50% or more.

A jury trial is almost always granted to defendants in criminal cases; with civil cases, a jury trial is used in some cases, while not in others.

Another difference between criminal and civil trials rests with the possible punishments. When a defendant in a criminal trial is found guilty, the judge has discretion to assign a sentence. Often there is a minimum and maximum punishment to be used as a guideline for cases, but occasionally there are cases that create a legal precedent. Criminal punishment ranges from probation to jail time, and from community service to execution. Obviously, criminal punishments are determined according to the severity of the crime and the crimes that cause minimal damage will be more leniently punished than those that affect the basic rights of other humans, such as murder and rape. In contrast, a defendant in a civil case will not face incarceration as a punishment, but may be ordered to make financial restitution to the plaintiff or plaintiffs.

It is possible to be prosecuted for the same crime in both a criminal and a civil trial, though the actual crimes that you are initially charged with will vary. For instance, it is possible to be prosecuted for murder and be found innocent in a criminal trial, only to be charged in a civil trial for wrongful death and found guilty. Because the standards for evidence are not as stringent in the civil trial, the possibility of being found guilty can be much greater.