January 5, 2014

What Are The Differences Between Criminal And Civil Law?

By Corey Joe -

Criminal law is a set of rules that defines conduct of people that is not within the norms of a state as it is made to or can endanger the safety and welfare of the public either with a threat or cause harm. It sets out the punishment to be imposed on those who violate laws or fail to abide by these laws. It is distinctive for the unique and serious potential consequences, penalties or sanctions it brings about for breaching the law. Criminal law is enforced by the state while civil law which may be enforced by private parties.

Criminal law has five objectives accepted for enforcement by punishment and these would be retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and restitution. Retribution will in some way for the criminal to suffer as a consequence to the crime committed. Deterrence can be for individuals or in general to discourage them from acts of criminal behavior. Incapacitation is sort of keeping criminals away from the public to protect them from any misconduct. Rehabilitation, sometimes also termed as correctional, has the intention and aim of transforming an offender to a decent and valuable member of the society. Lastly, restitution is more on leaning towards compensation for loss or damages suffered by a victim. Different jurisdictions can have different values placed on each.

Civil law is a system of law that was codified under Emperor Justinian in his desire to make the Roman law a simple and clear system of laws and now the basis for many modern systems of civil law. In general, based on the Wikipedia definition, civil law is the body of law dealing with the individual relations or among members within a community. It is based on the principle that all citizens must have access to it and a publication of the laws which apply to them and which judges must follow.

Compared to criminal law, civil law encompasses the likes of civil code, family code, and child and welfare code. It deals with private disputes between private people or organizations. Most number of civil cases involves the “tort law” that protects a person from bodily harm and injury, loss or damage personal and infringement of intellectual property or rights, and reputation of an individual. Tort is referred to as legal wrongdoings that may compromise or damage those. Often punishment is in the form of compensation of loss or monetary damages caused the wrongdoing.

In some cases, civil courts also may issue an injunction which would prevent or forbid someone from change of name or legal status in terms of divorce. Restraining order of a court is similar to this that prevents someone to do some acts.

Civil liability can also flow from a defendant found not guilty in a criminal case. The statute of limitations is also an alternative for criminal cases where prescription period has expired to sue for a civil case.

Some overlap might be seen with tort law and criminal law. The main difference is, in tort law, it allows a victim to demand a suitable remedy to his or her satisfaction, while in criminal law the objective is to punish the offender for his or her action. A criminal court though can seek for or help the victim sue for damages for remedies as compared to a civil court that is limited to the satisfaction of offended parties’ demands.

It will be worthwhile to note that some civil offenses can turn to criminal offense like when a traffic violation ticket requires the offender to appear before a court to clear the offense. Failure to appear in court will constitute a criminal offense that can result to an arrest. That is the thin dividing line between civil offense and criminal offense in cases like this.

Criminal law involves clients who are being prosecuted by the state or federal government after being arrested and charged with either a misdemeanor or felony offense. If you’re facing a criminal or civil offense, contact a Maryland criminal defense attorney at http://www.shapiroandmack.com today.

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