By Shaun Murphy
It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a Palm Springs personal injury law firm or if the incident happened in different state, understanding what type of representation that will be needed is essential. The question is: “Is this a criminal or civil case?” This is important for the claimant to know in order to contact a law firm that can best represent the case.
What Cases Do Law Firms Handle?
Generally most law firms will handle both types of cases, but there are significant differences between civil law and criminal law. Not only are these types of cases governed by differing sets of laws, they also have different aims.
Criminal laws are targeted toward punishment of the criminal or criminal act, while civil law is focused on redressing or compensating the injured party for losses, be it property, monies or whatever else may be deemed appropriate.
Criminal vs. Civil
The most common civil cases concerns such issues as landlord and tenant disputes, divorce proceedings and personal injury claims, to cite a few. Criminal cases will fall into such categories as robbery, murder or assault and so on.
Although both types of cases each have a plaintiff (the individual or organization etc. filing the suit) and a defendant (the person or persons, group or organization being charged with wrong doing), how these cases are handled differ greatly.
Civil cases are brought before a judge who deliberates and determines what and how if any remedies are to be made. The plaintiff in criminal cases is the role assumed by the government on behalf of the victim and a prosecutor will present the case, often before a jury if no plea agreement is made.
Determining Guilt and Punishment
Civil suits like those that the aforementioned Palm Springs personal injury law firm might argue are taken before a judge, it is noteworthy that the burden of proof in a civil case is less than that of a criminal trial.
After hearing arguments, if a preponderance of evidence is presented then a guilty or liable verdict is passed. At this point the defendant will have to pay compensation to the victim.
Regarding criminal cases, the term “beyond a reasonable doubt” is where the case hinges. If the alleged perpetrator of the crime is in fact found (again often by jury trial), guilty beyond a reasonable doubt then punishment of fines, incarceration and in the most severe cases death may be levied. When a case does involve a jury trial a unanimous decision is required in order to produce a guilty verdict.
When to Seek Civil Litigation
It isn’t uncommon that most people, organizations or companies find an agreement that is considered acceptable by the parties involved during an incident that may lead to a civil suit claim. However, in the event that there is no agreement on a fair settlement between those claiming injury or wrongdoing and the accused, then it would naturally proceed to the next step of filing a claim.
Due to the time, effort and expense to both parties and the difficulty of coming to an agreement an arbitrator or mediator will often be utilized. This will prevent either party from needing to eventually find themselves in a courtroom. The potential of losing a case is always a possibility making this decision one that demands serious consideration and should never be taken lightly.