Criminal and Civil court systems
A number of differences exist between the criminal and civil court systems. In the criminal court system, the victim reports the crime to law enforcement who may investigate. If adequate evidence is found during investigation and an arrest is made, a prosecutor files charges against the defendant. The criminal court system considers the crime to be committed against the state rather than against the individual victim. In a criminal case, the prosecutor acts as the attorney for all the people of the state or jurisdiction. They control all key decisions of the case, such as whether to charge a defendant and what crime to charge, and whether to offer or accept a plea deal or go to trial. If the defendant is found guilty, the penalties may include: imprisonment, fines and forfeitures, probation, community service, and sometimes restitution to the individual victim. The amount of evidence needed (the burden of proof) to win a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt” which is a much more difficult standard to attain than that of civil cases.
Victims of crime may also seek justice by filing a civil lawsuit. In a civil case, the victim usually hires a private attorney to determine if the offender is liable for the harm caused to the victim. The act that caused the harm is known as a “tort” in the civil court system. The victim controls all key decisions of the case, such as whether to accept settlement or go to trial. The victim of a civil lawsuit is seeking to be compensated for the harm caused, usually with money. The burden of proof is a “preponderance of evidence” which means that one side’s evidence must be more persuasive than the other. There are time limits on how long a victim has to f...
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A. Explain burden of proof, and how burden of proof differs between the criminal and civil courts concerning these issues.
Burden of proof is the obligation to prove one’s assertion. The standard of burden of proof differs in criminal and civil cases. Criminal cases require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” which is proof that leaves you so convinced that you have no reasonable doubt of who committed the crime and how they did it. Civil cases are proved by the “preponderance of evidence” which means that more than fifty percent of the evidence points to one thing.
Someone found innocent of murder in a criminal case can later be found guilty of wrongful death in a civil case. This is because proof beyond reasonable doubt is a much harder standard to achieve than the preponderance of evidence.
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