In the United States, two different categories of legislation are used to avenge victims of crime or punish misconduct. These are referred to as civil law and criminal law. Lawsuits under civil law address conduct that injures a person or another private party in some way.
Any parties proved to be responsible for these activities often face financial repercussions.
However, they may also include judicially mandated measures like restraining orders or injunctions.
Civil law typically deals with disagreements between people or institutions. These disagreements are between individuals. Criminal law deals with acts that violate the norms that society has established. Criminal law generally imposes harsher sanctions on the guilty, from community service to the death penalty.
Like criminal law, civil law can have severe fines or other repercussions. The penalties, however, are frequently much less severe in comparison. Because of this, the accused is frequently given special safeguards under the criminal code. The Miranda warnings being read out loud before an interrogation is an illustration of this. Additionally, compared to civil actions, criminal law trials have a heavier burden of proof for guilt.
It is crucial to remember that criminal and civil law are not always mutually exclusive. It is conceivable to be sued, punished, and convicted under criminal law after a civil law action or the other way around. In general, it will be simpler to sue someone and hold them accountable in a civil law court if they have previously been found guilty in a criminal court of law.
Cases involving personal injury, tort law, and other issues are all included in the realm of civil law.
Employment, family, business, finance, immigration, intellectual property, contracts, real estate, medicine, and landlord-tenant relationships are laws.
There have always been two ways of looking at the law. The first method outlines codes of conduct on paper before judging behavior using these “codes” of conduct. Greek philosophy was the foundation for Roman law, which later became the law in continental Europe. The “civil system of law” is a confusing name for this legislation.
The “common law,” or the second type of law, refers to the informal social norms of society’s members. Old English tribes like the Saxons and the Welsh are responsible for this type of law. Despite the Norman invasion bringing with it the more formalized Roman law, the practice of assessing behavior based on regional customs persisted.
The concept of “common law” does not imply that legal norms are universally true. Instead, depending on a real case’s verdict—a jury decision—judges record what the law appears to be in various places.
Our contemporary civil law system, which mixes written legal codes (statutes) and unwritten social norms (judge-made law), is derived from English common law.
Our American civil law has been so successful in fostering an effective, peaceful, and happy society because of the balance and separation of law into the judicial, legislative, and executive departments of government.
What Is the Procedure for Civil Law?
Civil cases usually get started when one party asserts that they have been wronged in some way by another person or company. A complaint, which is a statement of the facts and legal theories, is what the plaintiff would submit to start a case. A complaint will also ask for relief. The plaintiff may ask for compensation, an injunction, or a court order outlining the parties’ legal rights under a contract or statute in the complaint.
The discovery phase of the lawsuit will then begin for both sides. Both sides will learn facts during the discovery stage of a case that tends to either support or refute the hypotheses advanced by the plaintiff in the initial complaint. For instance, either party may speak with witnesses or take depositions to gather information.
Following the discovery phase of the litigation, a judge or jury will review the case’s facts and apply the relevant legal standards to them. They will render a verdict and decide what punishment the offender will face in court. It is usual for parties to settle disputes between themselves in civil law cases. To avoid going to court and losing, they may decide to settle and reach a settlement.
Most civil settlements include the defendant giving money to the plaintiff, but they might be designed to produce an enforceable judgment.
Other civil law procedures involve serving a summons and a copy of the complaint within seven days of the initial filing, filing a witness list and copies of all pertinent documents seven days before the hearing and filing an answer and counterclaim within fifteen days of receiving the complaint, or thirty days if the complaint was posted in front of the defendant’s official place of business.
What Takes Place at a Civil Trial?
If a dispute goes beyond any pre-trial motions, a trial will be held to decide the case. If necessary, a jury made up of a representative sample of the qualified population is chosen. The attorneys for both parties present their opening comments. In their opening statement, the parties lay out their view of the case and the conclusion they want the judge or jury to reach. The opening statement also outlines the evidence that the lawyer will use to support their position.
In civil cases, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, as was previously stated. The plaintiff must prove or refute any disputed facts and produce evidence relevant to the lawsuit’s subject matter. The burden of proof may shift from the plaintiff to the defendant throughout the civil trial.
The defendant then prepares a reply pleading rejecting part or all of the charges made by the plaintiff, who initially has the burden of proof. The burden of proof for their defenses or counterclaims then transfers to them.
All U.S. courts follow the principles of civil procedure, which mandate that the plaintiff prove their case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” A more than 50% likelihood that the defendant committed the crime that resulted in the damage is what is often meant by a preponderance of the evidence. If the plaintiff cannot establish their claim by a preponderance of the evidence, the defendant is not required to present any evidence to support their position.
After the opening remarks, the witnesses will be questioned and cross-examined. The plaintiff’s counsel will question the witness, and then the defendant’s attorney may ask the witness questions in response. The plaintiff will then rest their case, and the defendant may move for a directed verdict.
Before the jury deliberates the case, closing remarks are made, and instructions are given. They will deliver their judgment after making a final conclusion. The losing side has the option to take the judgment to a higher court for review.
For a Civil Law Issue, Should I Retain Legal Counsel?
Nearly every non-criminal legal theory allows for the filing or defense of lawsuits. A competent and qualified civil attorney can help you assess whether you have a strong case if you feel you have been harmed financially or in another way.
Additionally, it is best to speak with a lawyer immediately to decide the best course of action if someone or a company sues you. Delay in responding to the lawsuit could seriously harm your defense.
A knowledgeable local attorney will assist you in negotiating a fair and acceptable damages award and represent you in court if necessary.