Building from the ground up: Civil vs. Criminal Cases
November 18, 2014
At Ball Eggleston, we primarily focus our resources, expertise, and energy on civil cases, but are prepared to assist with criminal cases as well. But what is a civil case? What is a criminal case?
When we decided to start our Law Education Series, we decided to start from the ground up — to build for you an accessible resource of knowledge beginning with the fundamentals of civil law. To establish this foundation, this inaugural post in our Law Education Series will introduce civil cases and also briefly differentiate between civil and criminal cases.
The key difference between civil and criminal cases is that civil cases involve private disputes between persons or organizations. Some examples include property disputes, cases based on an unfulfilled contract between two parties, or family and custody disputes.
Criminal cases, on the other hand, involve actions considered harmful to society, or in other words a person is charged with a particular crime, such as kidnapping, theft, or murder.
Civil Case Lawsuits
In a civil case, a civil lawsuit begins when the plaintiff files a complaint claiming to have incurred a loss as a result of another party, known as the defendant. Civil litigation exists to bring these cases to court in order to resolve these civil disputes between two parties. These disputes are settled by way of a decision to determine which party is at fault. If the defendant is indeed found to be at fault, the plaintiff is usually awarded damages which seek to restore the plaintiff to their original state. Or in other words, damages help make things ‘right’ in the eyes of the law before the dispute occurred. Typically, this is some determined amount of money. These are various damages that can be awarded:Compensatory damages are monies awarded to a plaintiff to compensate for damage, injury, or other incurred loss as a result of the negligence or unlawful conduct of another party (ie. personal injury, property damage, medical expenses, loss of funds in contract, work earnings).
- Incidental damages are monies awarded to a plaintiff to compensate for incidental expenses incurred by the plaintiff as a result of the damage, injury, or other incurred loss as a result of the negligence or unlawful conduct of another party (ie. breach of contract, returned goods, sustained injury expenses).
- Punitive damages are monies awarded against a defendant to punish the defendant for their negligence, reckless, intentional, or unlawful conduct which has caused damage to another party. This award is meant to encourage the defendant to make sure something like this does not happen again (ie. wrongful death, malpractice, insurance claims).
In some special occasions, the courts can also order “injunctive relief” or “an injunction.” This sort of relief can order a person or organization to do — or not do — particular things. Injunctions are unusual, but can be an important part of relief to a party for whom monetary damages simply won’t suffice.
Criminal Case Lawsuits
Criminal cases involve a formal accusation filed by the government on behalf of the people. Rather than seeking restoration, criminal cases seek punitive, criminal sanctions for actions considered harmful to society. In criminal cases, decisions are made based upon the severity of the crime in question and whether that crime is a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Misdemeanors are less serious crimes and are punishable by less than a year in prison, as well as fines and damages representing monetary sums paid by the defendant to the courts. Examples include petty theft, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, vandalism, and first-time possession of certain drugs.
- Felonies are more serious crimes and are punishable by more than a year in prison as well as fines and damages. Examples include assault, murder, vehicular homicide, tax evasion, treason, kidnapping.
At Ball Eggleston, our expertise and focus lies in the arena of civil law and litigation. But we also have attorneys who practice criminal defense. We believe people are entitled to justice whether their case is civil or criminal. Iit is your constitutional right to be protected.
Keep checking back to find additional informative and educational posts covering law related topics from your friends at Ball Eggleston as a part of our Law Education Series.
Ball Eggleston is located at 201 Main Street, Suite 810 P.O. Box 1535 Lafayette, IN 47902. Contact Ball Eggleston by phone at (765) 742‑9046, by fax at (765) 742‑1966, or by email at email@example.com. For additional information, find Ball Eggleston online at ballegg.local. You can also find us on Facebook.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.