Making the Distinction Between Civil and Criminal Law Cases

There are two types of cases that go through our federal and state court systems: Civil and Criminal.

It is easy to get these two types confused, but once you understand the difference, then you will be able to tell immediately the type of case.

Criminal Law Cases

Criminal law cases in Maricopa, AZ are cases in which someone is being sued by the state or federal government, and the party being sued is charged with a crime that could result in a punishment of a fine or prison sentence.

In a criminal case, the style of the case is the government (either state or federal) versus the defendant. A prosecutor or district attorney will represent the government.

It is important to know that the victim of the crime does not bring a criminal case. Only the state or federal attorney can file a criminal case against a defendant.

Civil Law Cases

A civil case occurs when there is a dispute between two parties and no jail or prison time is considered. A civil case is when one person or entity sues another person or entity. One of the parties is called the plaintiff, and the other is called the defendant. A civil case can be heard in both state and federal courts.

An example of a civil case in a state court could be one where someone breached a contract, or someone took down a fence that did not belong to them.

Sometimes a criminal case can have a civil element. For instance, in the O.J. Simpson criminal case, a civil case was filed against O.J. Simpson to pay money to the families of the murdered victims.

The easiest way to remember the difference is this one: if there is a possibility that someone could go to prison, then it is a criminal law case. If you are involved in a criminal case, the lawyers at can represent you throughout your criminal case. You can also visit them on Facebook.

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