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What Are the Differences between the Criminal and Civil Justice Systems?

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The American court system is separated between the criminal justice and civil justice systems. Each system has its own laws, punishments, and burdens of proof. Depending on the case, a civil lawsuit my follow a criminal case. Here’s what you need to know about how the criminal justice system and civil justice system differs, and where you can get the help of a bail bondsman in Texas if someone you know has been arrested.





What Are Criminal Cases?

A criminal case involves crimes that violate the law. The prosecutor will decide whether to charge the offender with a criminal offense. The victim does not have to pay anything if a prosecutor chooses to take the case to trial. Depending on the situation, the prosecutor may seek information from the victim, but they are responsible for making any decisions and they are accountable to the public.

In the criminal justice system, the government brings a case against a defendant. Certain criminal cases are punishable by a prison sentence, fines, and even the death penalty. This system focuses on cases that are brought into federal or state criminal courts by law enforcement. The government has the burden of proof to show the jury its case and convince them that the evidence supports it. Examples of criminal cases include:

  • Assault
  • Murder
  • Sexual assault
  • Identity theft
  • Drug possession
  • Manufacturing fake money

What Are Civil Cases?

A civil case is also known as a lawsuit. The victim decides whether they want to take legal action against the person they believe has harmed them in some way. The victim can hire a lawyer or bring the case to the court by themselves. If the victim chooses to work with a lawyer, the legal fees and court costs are their own responsibility.

In the civil justice system, citizens (individuals or organizations) bring lawsuits against each other, and most cases do not punish the accused with incarceration unless someone is in contempt of court. Civil cases usually involve some sort of dispute, where the penalties involved financial or property compensation. It is not guaranteed that a civil case has a right to a jury trial. Some examples of civil cases include:

  • An issue concerning an inheritance
  • A problem regarding a contract
  • A family problem such as a divorce or custody of children

How Do These Systems Work?

Although the burden of proof is required in both cases, it is even higher in criminal law. For civil law, all that is required is to find someone liable by proving that more than 50% of the evidence supports the case. The assumption is that it is more likely that the facts presented are true. However, in a criminal trial, the jury must believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charge. If there is any reasonable uncertainty, the defendant must be acquitted.

Punishments Available for Each System

If you or someone you know has been convicted in a criminal court, the consequences can include paying a fine, going on probation, or spending time in jail. If someone is convicted in a civil court, the penalties are typically damages awarded to the plaintiff.

A useful and popular example of the differences between a criminal and civil case is the O.J. Simpson trial in the mid-1990s. The prosecutor charged O.J. Simpson with the murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and of Ron Goldman. The jury did not receive enough evidence during the trial to find beyond a reasonable doubt that O.J. Simpson was guilty, so he was found not guilty.

A civil lawsuit was filed after the criminal trial from the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. These families hired lawyers and sued O.J. Simpson for the deaths of their loved ones. In this case, the jury found O.J. Simpson liable. They believed that there was at least a 51% chance that he committed the crimes. After he was found liable in this lawsuit, the jury assessed damages against him, and he was ordered to pay their families.

Although the outcomes seem inconsistent, the important aspect to remember is that for civil cases and criminal cases there are different standards of proof. The standard for criminal cases is much higher, as the consequences are more extreme.

Let PCS Bail Bonds Help You

Understanding the difference between criminal law and civil law can be complicated, as there are many unique aspects to each situation. However, once you or your loved one is arrested, there is very little time to gather your defense and protect your rights. The first step after being arrested is to contact a bail bondsman in Texas. If you are behind bars, it will be very difficult to understand your situation and the potential consequences if you are found guilty. Getting a bail bond release will allow you to keep your life as normal as possible while you work with your defense lawyer in preparation for your trial.

PCS Bail Bonds can help you if you need to post bail or need advice about your situation. We provide 24-hour bail bonds for all kinds of charges including theft, drug possession, embezzlement, assault, and more. Our experienced agents can help you obtain a bond in a fraction of the time it takes other agencies.

Contact us now by phone at 817-335-1655, at our e-mail, visit in-person, or fill out our bail bond request form. You can be confident that you’re working with experts who are dedicated to helping you.

Author: Paul Schuder

Paul Schuder is the owner of PCS Bail Bonds and Profession Court Services (PCS). He is a lifelong resident of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Paul has over twenty years of courthouse experience, and has been in businesses involving the criminal justice system for his entire career. Paul has helped thousands of clients with their pursuit of justice and fair play. Mr. Schuder maintains high levels of respect with all the court house personnel, especially judges and attorneys. Using a close hands-on personal approach and a keen understanding of all cultures, helps people when they need it most. Add me to your G+

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