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Explain and illustrate the main distinctions between civil and criminal law.

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Introduction

Explain and illustrate the main distinctions between civil and criminal law. (20 marks) This question is designed to provide a clear explanation and illustration of the main distinction between criminal and civil Law. The civil justice system is designed to decide disputes between individuals. Criminal Law serves to maintain law and order, to protect society. Civil claims will arise when an individual or a business believes that their rights are being infringed in some way. Civil cases cover a wide range of issues, as there are different areas of civil law. These include: * Contract law * Tort law * Family law * Employment law * Company Law The criminal justice system affects large numbers of people. Criminal law is central to the relationship between law and society. It looks to regulate behaviour; it provides sanctions against those who break those rules. It can be classified as a formal mechanism of social control. ...read more.

Middle

In criminal cases, usually the State through the police and crown prosecution service starts the case against the defendant. The defendant in a criminal proceeding can either be found guilty or not guilty. An example of the criminal case law is; (R v Gotts) 1991- Attempt murder under duress. Ben Gotts was charged with the attempted murder of his mother. The mother had left the family home after arguments with the father and gone to a women's aid refuge with two of the young children. One morning as the mother left the refuge to take one of the children to school Ben aged 16 armed with a knife supplied by his father ran up behind her and stabbed her. He was charged with attempted murder and wounding with intent. A court is a place where justice can be administered. A court where a case is heard is called a court of first instance. ...read more.

Conclusion

In criminal cases the person making the decisions are either the magistrates or jury. * Magistrates' Court All criminal prosecutions start in the magistrate's court. Those accused of the most serious crimes such as murder, rape and robbery can only be tried in the Crown Court and hence the magistrates function is limited to holding proceedings to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to justify transferring the case to the crown court for trial. The distinction between civil and criminal law is noticeable. One of elements that separate civil law from criminal is the standard of proof; in civil cases, the court makes its decision on the "balance of probabilities". In criminal cases, the jury must be satisfied as to whether the defendant's guilt is "beyond all reasonable doubt". However, there are also some similarities that link the two; for instance, liability can be civil or criminal according to whether it is enforced by the civil or criminal courts. ...read more.

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