Each country has a system of laws that regulates wrongdoings within the state. These laws fall into two categories; Civil and Criminal law. Civil law focuses on resolving disputes that may arise between private parties or organizations. These Include cases relating to defamation, family disputes, damage of property, and breach of contract. Criminal law, on the other hand, seeks to regulate crimes committed against the state or the federal government. This involves breaking laws that have been established by the government, such as murder, rape, trafficking, and theft.
Both civil and criminal cases are presented in a court of law and aim at regulating wrongdoings within the society. However, the two also have several irrefutable differences.
One main difference arises with respect to how the cases are initiated, in terms of who files the charges and how the cases are decided. In civil law, cases are initiated by a private party (plaintiff) who files charges against the other party (defendant.) In criminal law, the state or the federal government (prosecution) is responsible for initiating the cases. An individual may report a crime but can never file criminal charges against another party even though they are the immediate persons affected by the crime. It is the role of the government to file such criminal charges and initiate the case in court.
Burden of Proof
In a civil court, most cases are presided by a judge. The burden of proof falls on the plaintiff, who initiates the case and has to prove that indeed it is more likely that the defendant was responsible for the problem. In criminal court, cases are often presented to a jury. The burden of proof falls to state or the prosecution who have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged crime.
When the judge finds the defendant responsible for the wrongdoing in a civil suit, he will order that the defendant reimburse the plaintiff an amount equal to the harm caused by his actions. This amount to be compensated is decided by the judge and known as the punitive damage. If the jury in a criminal case is undoubtedly convinced that the defendant committed the crime, the defendant is found guilty and is punished often by incarceration in a prison, through a hefty fine and in some extreme cases given a death penalty.
It is, therefore, right to conclude that criminal law focuses on protecting the interests of the general public by punishing offenders and controlling crimes for a better society. civil law, on the other hand, is involved with solving disputes between private parties.