It wouldn't make sense for a defendant in a contract dispute
to have the same kind of trial as, say, Jason.
That's why the courts in this country
split cases into two categories--
civil and criminal.
A civil case is when one person, the plaintiff,
brings legal action against another person who
has allegedly wronged them-- the defendant-- with the intent
of collecting damages.
Damages equals money.
A criminal case is where a government prosecutes someone
to prove them guilty of committing a crime,
like a car thief.
The victim of this crime is often
a witness in the government's case against the accused,
as well as any eyewitnesses.
In a civil case, the court can judge
that a defendant owes the plaintiff
money, or other property, or must perform
a service that was promised.
Mostly, though, it's money.
Reimbursement, compensation, or punitive damages.
However, a judge in a civil case cannot send a defendant
to jail, barring a few exceptions,
usually regarding the intentional violation of court
In a criminal case, either the prosecutor or a grand jury
initiates the proceedings.
Punishment for guilty defendants can
range from fines, community service,
or educational classes, to much more serious consequences,
such as jail time.
And anyone, including the defendant,
can be called as a witness in a civil case,
whereas in a criminal case, they cannot be forced to.
Also, criminal cases generally have a higher burden
of proof than civil cases.
This is mainly because a person's freedom is at stake.
Prosecutors have to work that much harder to show guilt.
They must prove that the defendant
is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
A plaintiff in a civil case, however,
only needs to prove that they should
win by a preponderance of the evidence.
Preponderance just means the greater amount, or weight,
of the evidence when taking into account
the believability of that evidence.
For more details on the differences between types
of cases, or anything having to do with court in any way,
Legal You is your go-to resource.