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What is the difference between criminal law and civil law?
Civil law suits are private suits between two or more citizens. Civil law is the area of law by which private individuals resolve their differences with the help of the civil courts. Criminal law involves a citizen or a business and the state. The rules of the federal government and all individual state governments are codified into statutes. When an individual violates the rules, as listed in the statutes, then the federal government or the state will prosecute the individual. The remedies available in civil courts are generally limited to money damages. The remedies in criminal court may involve a money fine and/or a prison sentence.
Can some activities be both a criminal offense and a civil offense?
Yes. For example, If John punches Bob, John may be guilty of battery in a criminal court and liable to Bob for battery in a civil court.
Is being guilty the same as being liable?
No. Someone is legally guilty if they are adjudicated in a criminal court. On the other hand, someone is liable if they are adjudicated in a civil court.
How could a person be found not guilty in his criminal case, yet, liable in his civil case?
A prosecutor in a criminal case has a higher burden of proof than a plaintiff’s attorney in a civil case. The prosecutor must prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The plaintiff’s attorney in the civil case need only prove their case by “a preponderance of the evidence.” So a person may be liable in the civil case, but not guilty in the criminal case because the criminal prosecutor has a higher burden of proof than the plaintiff’s attorney in the civil case.