Civil Lawsuit

A Civil Lawsuit is a legal process through which an individual (the plaintiff) can hold another person (the defendant) liable for causing some form of harm (through inaction or action). If the plaintiff wins the civil lawsuit, he/she is usually compensated for the harm done.

Civil lawsuits aren’t limited to two individuals. These lawsuits can be filed by and against companies, groups, or various other entities.

Typical examples of civil lawsuits would include contract disputes, disputes over injuries caused, and residential evictions etc.

The key difference between civil and criminal lawsuits is that civil lawsuits seek to compensate the victim for damages or problems caused whereas criminal lawsuits aim to punish the criminal/defendant for committing a crime.

In fact, here are a few other differences that can help you differentiate civil and criminal lawsuits.

Anybody can file a civil lawsuit

Civil lawsuits are almost always bought by private parties. This could be an individual or even a business that has suffered some kind of damage due to the carelessness, irresponsibility, or willful ignorance of another individual or business.

Criminal cases, on the other hand, are filed by a prosecutor or attorney from the state or local government.

More leniency with regard to Burden of Proof

What this means is that civil lawsuits do not place extreme importance over evidence. In other words, the allegations put forth by the plaintiff are generally believed to be true unless the defendant can provide indisputable evidence to the contrary.

In criminal cases, the court and the attorney/prosecutor must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

The plaintiff is compensated

Whatever is at stake in a civil lawsuit is looked at from the perspective of monetary value. This is exactly why plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit are awarded money. This is referred to as damages award and is required to be paid by the defendant.

In contrast, criminal cases will see the defendant being sent to prison if he/she is found guilty. Apart from being sent to prison or jail, the defendant may be asked to a pay a fine, perform services in favor of the community or a combination of both.

In some cases, the criminal may even be given the death penalty. However, this is usually observed only when the defendant is found guilty of committing an extremely violent crime. The sentencing also depends on whether or not the state allows the death penalty.