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Distinction Between Criminal And Civil Law.

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Distinction Between Criminal And Civil Law It is important to realise that civil law is very different from criminal law. Criminal law is part of public law while civil law is in the separate category of private law. The reason that criminal law is part of public law is that crime is regarded as an action against the state and society as a whole. Civil law is called private law because the issues it deals with are between two individuals. The two types of law have different aims and are dealt with in different courts. In civil law, a private party (e.g., a corporation or individual person) files the lawsuit and becomes the plaintiff. In criminal law, the government, who is called the prosecution, always files the litigation. Criminal law sets out the type of behaviour, which are forbidden at risk of punishment. A person who commits a crime is said to have offended against the State, and so the State has the right to prosecute them. This is so because there is often an individual victim of crime as well. For example, if a defendant commits the crime of burglary by breaking into a house and stealing, the State prosecute the defendant for the burglary, although it is also possible for the victim to bring a private prosecution if the State does not take proceedings. ...read more.


At the end of a criminal case those who are found guilty of breaking the law may be punished, while at the end of a civil case anyone found liable will be ordered to put right the matter as far as possible. An award of money in compensation, known as damages, though the court can make other orders such as an injunction to prevent similar actions in the future, or an order for specific performance where the defendant who broke a contract is ordered to complete that contract, usually does this. Fourthly, the standard of proof is different. Criminal cases must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. This is a very high standard of proof, and is necessary since a conviction could result in a defendant serving a long prison sentence. Civil cases have only to be proved on the balance of probabilities, a lower standard in which the judge decides who is most likely to be right. This difference in the standard to which a case has to be proved mean that all though a defendant in a criminal case has been acquitted, a civil case based on the same facts against that defendant can still be successful. ...read more.


In criminal law, police generally must first obtain a search warrant in a proceeding showing a "neutral and detached" magistrate that there is "probable cause", before searching or seizing items from a person's house. In civil law, an attorney may demand information from the opposing party about any matter that is relevant to the case, provided that information is not privileged. In civil law, an attorney may properly demand information that would be inadmissible at trial, if such demand "appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence". The prohibition against double jeopardy applies only to criminal trials. The corresponding concept in civil litigation is res judicata: one can have only one trial for claims arising from one transaction or occurrence. In a criminal case, the suspect or defendant has the right to remain silent during questioning by police and prosecuting attorneys. In a criminal case, the defendant may choose to refuse to be a witness, and the jury may infer nothing from the defendant's choice not to testify. However, in a civil case, the defendant must be available and cooperative for depositions and testimony as a witness in the trial. (1526 words) Access to Law The English Legal System Assignment 1 Marjorie Morgan 3rd/December/03 What are the distinctions, if any, between civil and criminal law? ...read more.

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