The legal system is divided into two separate classifications—criminal law and civil cases. While they both exist to ensure laws are enforced, each of these systems has different procedures, evidentiary thresholds, and rules for people who might initiate legal action. Understanding the difference between these parallel systems will help you prepare for your case and ensure you get legal representation suited to your needs.
As the name suggests, the criminal justice system is designed to identify and punish those guilty of violating the criminal code. Because a guilty verdict in a criminal case may result in loss of property or jail time, the Constitution provides protection for those charged with a crime, including the right to a lawyer and a trial by jury. In criminal cases, action must be brought by the state or federal government, who must demonstrate beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
Unlike criminal law, the civil system is concerned with settling conflicts between private citizens, businesses, and government agencies. Anyone who has suffered damages because of someone else’s actions—or lack thereof—has the right to bring a civil case to court, where it may be decided by a judge or jury. Because civil cases typically end in a financial award or an order compelling a party to perform a certain action, the law only requires that one party prove its side with a preponderance of evidence. Bear in mind that the same action could result in both criminal and civil action. For instance, someone accused of assault may be arrested, while victims may file a personal injury suit for their damages.
No matter what your legal issues might be, you can rely on the attorneys at Osborne, Tripp & Schmidt to have the expertise to advocate for your interests throughout the process. With four attorneys working in a variety of practice areas, they provide effective counsel to clients throughout Monroe County, WI. Visit their website to learn more about their civil and criminal law services, or call (608) 269-2400 to arrange a consultation.