In criminal matters, action is taken by the “state” (either federal, state, or local government agencies) against an individual for a violation of the law. A criminal matter can result a sentence such as a fine, probation or time in jail. The sentence is imposed upon a defendant who pleads or is found guilty to keep him from acting in the same manner in the future and also to deter others from acting in a similar manner. Since a criminal matter can result in the “state” taking away a person’s freedom, there are additional constitutional protections built into the rules of criminal procedure. In civil matter, the controversy is between two or more “people” (“people” can include individuals, businesses or government agencies). Most often, the result is an award of money to be paid by one party to the other. The judgment is imposed to make the aggrieved person “whole” for the harm that has been caused by the other. A judgment in a civil matter does not include the imposition of a criminal sentence. The rules of civil procedure are different than that of criminal procedure because proceedings are different.
Currently, in many countries with a democratic system and the rule of law, criminal procedure puts the burden of proof on the prosecution – that is, it is up to the prosecution to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, as opposed to having the defense prove that s/he is innocent, and any doubt is resolved in favor of the defendant. This provision, known as the presumption of innocence, is required, for example, in the 46 countries that are members of the Council of Europe, under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and it is included in other human rights documents. However, in practice it operates somewhat differently in different countries. Similarly, all such jurisdictions allow the defendant the right to legal counsel and provide any defendant who cannot afford their own lawyer with a lawyer paid for at the public expense (which is in some countries called a “court-appointed lawyer”). Again, the efficiency of this system depends greatly on the jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions, the lawyers provided to indigent defendants are often overworked or less competent, or may not take much interest in the cases they have to defend.
Ward Churchill testifying in defense of his scholarship in the civil trial of Ward Churchill v. University of Colorado on March 23, 2009. Criminal and civil procedure are different. Although some systems, including the English, allow private persons to bring a criminal prosecution against another person, prosecutions are nearly always started by the state, in order to punish the defendant. Civil actions, on the other hand, are started by private individuals, companies or organizations, for their own benefit. The cases are usually in different courts, and juries are not so often used in civil cases. In Anglo-American law, the party bringing a criminal charge (that is, in most cases, the state) is called the “prosecution”, but the party bringing most forms of civil action is the “plaintiff” or “claimant”. In both kinds of action the other party is known as the “defendant”. A criminal case against a person called Ms. Sanchez would be described as “The People v. (=”versus”, “against” or “and”) Sanchez,” “The State (or Commonwealth) v. Sanchez” or “[The name of the State] v. Sanchez” in the United States and “R. (Regina, that is, the Queen) v. Sanchez” in England. But a civil action between Ms. Sanchez and a Mr. Smith would be “Sanchez v. Smith” if it was started by Sanchez, and “Smith v. Sanchez” if it was started by Mr. Smith. Most countries make a clear distinction between civil and criminal procedure.
For example, a criminal court may force a convicted defendant to pay a fine as punishment for his crime, and the legal costs of both the prosecution and defense. But the victim of the crime generally pursues his claim for compensation in a civil, not a criminal, action. In France and England, however, a victim of a crime may incidentally be awarded compensation by a criminal court judge. Evidence from a criminal trial is generally admissible as evidence in a civil action about the same matter. For example, the victim of a road accident does not directly benefit if the driver who injured him is found guilty of the crime of careless driving. He still has to prove his case in a civil action, unless the doctrine of collateral estoppel applies, as it does in most American jurisdictions. In fact he may be able to prove his civil case even when the driver is found not guilty in the criminal trial, because the standard to determine guilt is higher than the standard to determine fault. However, if a driver is found by a civil jury not to have been negligent, a prosecutor may be estopped from charging him criminally. If the plaintiff has shown that the defendant is liable, the main remedy in a civil court is the amount of money, or “damages”, which the defendant should pay to the plaintiff. Alternative civil remedies include restitution or transfer of property, or an injunction to restrain or order certain actions. The standards of proof are higher in a criminal case than in a civil one, since the state does not wish to risk punishing an innocent person. In English law the prosecution must prove the guilt of a criminal “beyond reasonable doubt”; but the plaintiff in a civil action is required to prove his case “on the balance of probabilities”. Thus, in a criminal case a crime cannot be proven if the person or persons judging it doubt the guilt of the suspect and have a reason (not just a feeling or intuition) for this doubt. But in a civil case, the court will weigh all the evidence and decide what is most probable.
https://www.cscja-acjcs.ca/criminal_civil_law-en.asp?l=4 Criminal law, one of two broad categories of law, deals with acts of intentional harm to individuals but which, in a larger sense, are offences against us all. It is a crime to break into a home because the act not only violates the privacy and safety of the home’s occupants – it shatters the collective sense that we are secure in our own homes. A crime is a deliberate or reckless act that causes harm to another person or another person’s property, and it is also a crime to neglect a duty to protect others from harm. Canada’s Criminal Code, created in 1892, lists hundreds of criminal offences – from vandalism to murder – and stipulates the range of punishment that can be imposed. Since crimes are an offence against society, normally the state or Crown investigates and prosecutes criminal allegations on the victim’s behalf. The police gather evidence and, in court, public prosecutors present the case against the person accused of the crime. For someone to be convicted of a crime, it must be proven that a crime was committed and, for most offences, that the person meant to commit the crime. For instance, striking another person is the crime of assault but it is only a crime if the blow was intentional. Civil law deals with disputes between private parties, or negligent acts that cause harm to others .
For example, if individuals or companies disagree over the terms of an agreement, or who owns land or buildings, or whether a person was wrongfully dismissed from their employment, they may file a lawsuit asking the courts to decide who is right. As well, the failure to exercise the degree of caution that an ordinarily prudent person would take in any situation may result in a negligence claim. Depending on the circumstances, a person may be held responsible for any damages or injury that occurs as a result of their negligence. Family law cases involving divorce, parental responsibility for children, spousal support, child support and division of property between spouses or common law couples represent a large portion of the civil law cases presented to the courts. Challenges to decisions of administrative tribunals, allegations of medical malpractice and applications for distribution of the estates of deceased persons are other examples of civil cases. The party who brings the legal action is known as the plaintiff or applicant, while the party being sued is the defendant or respondent. The courts may dismiss a case, or if it is found to have merit, the courts may order the losing party to take corrective action, although the usual outcome is an order to pay damages – a monetary award designed to make up for the harm inflicted. The state plays no role in civil cases, unless the government launches a lawsuit or is the party being sued. Parties retain a lawyer – or may choose to represent themselves – to gather evidence and present the case in court. Differing standards of proof: More evidence is needed to find the accused at fault in criminal cases than to find the defendant at fault in civil ones. To convict someone of a crime, the prosecution must show there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime and, in most cases, that they intended to commit it. Judges and juries cannot convict someone they believe probably committed the crime or likely is guilty – they must be almost certain. This gives the accused the benefit of any reasonable doubt and makes it less likely an innocent person will be wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. Civil cases, in contrast, must be proven on a balance of probabilities – if it is more likely than not that the defendant caused harm or loss, a court can uphold a civil claim.
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