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A civil and a criminal court case are not the same

In Maryland, court cases can either be criminal or civil in nature, and there is a world of difference between the two. A criminal case takes place when some sort of criminal offense is alleged. A civil case takes place when two or more individuals have some sort of issue with each other, with regards to some lawful obligation one may have to the other. So here are some other important differences between a civil and a criminal court case.

One of the main differences between a criminal and a civil case is that the type of punishment for each can be different. Being found guilty of a criminal charge usually involves some type of jail sentence as a punishment along with the potential of a stiff monetary fine. However, punishment in a civil case usually just involves an award of financial damages to the harmed party or instructions to the guilty party to avoid specific behavior.

Another difference between a criminal case and a civil one is that anyone charged in a criminal case is entitled to a criminal defense attorney, and one can be appointed for them if they cannot afford one. However, in a civil case, a defendant must hire an attorney themselves.

The standard of proof in a criminal case is also different from that in a civil case. In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. Civil cases, however, do not have to meet this standard and the plaintiff can win a civil case with only a preponderance of the evidence. 

It’s also important to remember that a criminal trial almost always involves a jury while a civil case may or not. However, any Maryland resident who is facing criminal charges may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney in order to discover additional differences between a criminal and a civil court case.

Source: FindLaw “The differences between a criminal case and a civil case”, Accessed May 14, 2016

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