Civil and Criminal litigation are verydifferent, but many people tend to forget that.
The word litigation meansresolving disputes within the court. The first difference between filing a caseweather it is civil of criminal depends on who can file a case in the firstplace. In a criminal case it is the state, who is represented by a districtattorney or by a lawyer called a prosecutor, who is the one that files thecourt case. It is the state that claims that a person has broken alaw(murder/theft).
The state asks the court for a punishment for the person.The punishment can be jail, probation, fines, or some other source ofpunishment. In a civil case, the plaintiff only needs to convince a judge orjury by a “preponderance of evidence” that their side is stronger. APreponderance of Evidence is when a judge or jury has to decide that it is morelikely than not that what the plaintiff says is true or not. In a criminalcase, the state must convince a judge or jury that the crime committed wascommitted “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Acivil case begins when a person, called the plaintiff, claims that anotherperson or the defendant has failed to carry out a legal duty owed to theplaintiff. Both the plaintiff and the defendant are also referred to as”parties” or “litigants.” The plaintiff may ask the courtto tell the defendant to fulfill the duty, or pay for the harm done, or both.Legal duties include respecting rights established under the Constitution orunder federal or state law. Civil suitsare brought in both state and federal courts. An example of a civil case in astate court would be if a citizen sued another citizen for not living up to acontract.
Many peoplewonder if destruction of property is a misdemeanor of a felony. These crimes ofdestruction of property can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on thevalue or kind of the property harmed or destructed. If the property involvedwas worth more than $250,or was a motor vehicle, the offense is a felony. If the property involved wasnot worth more than $250, or was not a motor vehicle, the offense is considereda misdemeanor. A criminal case begins when aperson is accused of a crime and is generally charged in a formal accusationcalled an indictment forfelonies or serious crimes or information for misdemeanors.
The government, onbehalf of the people of the United States, prosecutes the case through theUnited States Attorney’s Office. If the person is charged with a federal crime,a state’s attorney’s office will prosecute state crimes.