Distinction Between Criminal And Civil Law.

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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?

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. However, if there is a private prosecution, the State still has the right to intervene and take over the matter. At the end of the case, if the defendant is found guilty, the court will punish the defendant for the offence, because he or she has broken the criminal law set down by the State. The victim will not necessarily be given any compensation, since the case is not viewed as a dispute between the burglar and the householder. However, the criminal courts have the power to order that the offender pays the victim compensation and can make such an order, as well as punishing the offender.

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The state plays no part in Civil Law. Civil Law has many different branches. The main ones are contract, tort, and family law, law of succession, company law and employment law. Other divisions of civil law concentrate on particular topics. Family law covers such matters as whether a marriage is valid, what the rules are for divorce and who should have the day-to-day care of any children of the family. The law of succession is concerned both with regulating who inherits property when a person dies without making a will, and also what the rules are for making a ...

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