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Criminal and Civil Law

 
 
gollum
 
Reply Sun 7 Sep, 2008 06:29 am
What is a civil crime? If the government charges you with an offense, what is the distinction between civil charges and criminal charges?
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jespah
 
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Reply Sun 7 Sep, 2008 09:59 am
Civil crime? I don't believe there is such a thing.

Civil law is law where there is some sort of wrong or dispute which cannot/does not potentially lead to jail, plus it's not against the state. This is not a perfect definition by any means and I'm sure someone will be happy to come along and correct me.

Criminal law is a wrong versus the state. It may or may not lead to potentially jail but civil wrongs cannot.

For example, a civil wrong would be trespass. A criminal wrong would be murder.

However, confusion arises because often nearly the same act can fall under both. E. g. assault/battery. Civil battery is unwanted touching. Kiss me on the cheek and, if I don't want you to do it, you've committed a tort. My damages may be pretty slight but they are not zero. Criminal battery is also unwanted touching. It often takes on a more violent aspect but that's mainly because the state isn't going to get involved in an undesired kiss incident but they will get involved if you beat me. That's a matter of noninfinite state resouces more than anything else.

Let's say you beat me (ouch). I press criminal charges. I also sue you in Civil Court. The criminal case is State vs. Gollum. It is presented by a prosecutor in a Criminal Court. If you lose, you might have to go to jail or pay a fine. The civil case is Jespah vs. Gollum. It is brought in a Civil Court and I am referred to as the plaintiff. My lawyer is a civil attorney, hired by me and not by the state. Or I might represent myself, whereas in a criminal matter I would not be able to bring charges directly against you, even though I am an attorney. In Criminal, the state is actually the aggrieved party (although I am the victim). In Civil, I am the aggrieved party. In the civil matter, I would be able to get money damages from you (and possibly an injunction keeping you off my land or away from me) but I would not be able to send you to jail.
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