Criminal vs. Civil Law: Everything You Need to Know About

Criminal vs. Civil Law

Finding yourself charged with a crime is the last position anybody wants to be in but knowing how to respond can make all the difference. This starts with recognizing the crime you are actually being charged with, though, and whether or not that charge is criminal or civil. This can make a major difference in how the defense proceedings will occur, along with the potential punishment that a person faces.

What is Civil Law?

The first and most common type of lawsuit that a person may face is a civil lawsuit. A civil violation, as outlined by Cornell Law School, is that which deals with the rights of persons or groups. Specifically, it focuses on non-criminal violations of the law and tends to pertain to wrongdoings performed which impact the relations between two parties.

Common Examples of Civil Violations

  • Denying employment benefits to an employee who deserves them
  • A person is denied housing when they are eligible for it
  • A person commits sexual assault against another person
  • Using excessive force in an unnecessary context

What is Criminal Law?

On the other side of things, criminal law deals with the systems of laws that are concerned with the crimes and punishments one party commits against another. In a civil lawsuit, two parties dispute their rights back and forth, whereas, in a criminal lawsuit, the legal system is determining whether or not to punish an individual for their actions. Criminal lawsuit convictions typically result in serious charges such as jail time or major fines.

Common Examples of Criminal Violations

  • Committing criminal actions such as assault or battery, arson, kidnapping, rape, child abuse, domestic abuse, and more
  • Committing a crime against a property such as theft, larceny, or more
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Being intoxicated in public
  • Refusing to perform a sobriety test
  • Committing tax evasion, money laundering, or embezzlement

Key Tips to Follow if Placed Under Arrest

Regardless of whether you are facing a criminal or civil lawsuit, there are a number of steps to keep in mind when you are being placed under arrest. These can help to reduce the seriousness of the charges you are facing by showing you aren’t resisting arrest:

1.   Never argue or fight with the officers arresting you

Above all else, do not resist arrest when you are being apprehended by police officers. Don’t fight with them or attempt to run, as this will only add another charge to the list of charges you are potentially facing. Even if you are not fighting with the officers, don’t argue with them as it is not the time or the place to do so.

2.   Avoid speaking without your lawyer present

A person may believe they are completely innocent, but that doesn’t mean they understand the nuances of the law. There are many different tricks to arguing and proving your case in court that the average person may not be aware of. For this reason, it’s always best to wait until your lawyer has arrived before you start speaking with the police. In your effort to prove how innocent you are, you may accidentally say something that comes across as incriminating, which is why this is so important.

3.   Don’t accept any drinks or items from the police

The minute you throw something away, it becomes public property. In certain situations, you may be offered drinks or snacks by the authorities and they may retain the wrappers or leftovers in order to check DNA unbeknownst to you. Strive to understand your rights when you are arrested so that you can avoid giving evidence that you do not intend or want to give.

4.   Never destroy any potential evidence

Perhaps one of the biggest pieces of advice to keep in mind when you are being placed under arrest is to never, whether intentionally or unintentionally, destroy evidence. Regardless of whether the evidence may be used for or against you, it always has negative repercussions when it is destroyed. Simply leave the scene as it was when you are arrested.

Work with a criminal defense lawyer today

Rather than settling for facing the music when you are up against criminal or civil charges, consider reaching out to an accredited defense lawyer who can help you build a case. This case should involve bringing forth witnesses who can testify on your behalf while also presenting evidence that helps to proclaim your innocence. Don’t hesitate to start fighting to defend your name in court.