Civil and Criminal Actions

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Tony Statham
Criminal Law for Criminal Justice-CJ230
Professor Jim Hanlon
February 12, 2013

Civil and criminal actions involve important aspects of the justice system, but the way in which each action is dealt with is different. In the early phases of the development of the laws, civil and criminal actions were dealt with in the same manner. Over time, law makers have developed differences in these two actions. The differences between them can be made by who prosecutes the cases, the details of the cases, and the outcomes sought in the cases.

Civil actions involve differences between people where a person feels that another person’s actions caused him harm. According to Simmons (2008), most of the tort (civil) law is governed by a negligence standard. The object of civil actions is to address the harmful actions committed against a plaintiff by enforcing compensation from the defendant. The goal of civil actions is for the defendant to compensate and pay damages the plaintiff feels was incurred on him. Civil law cases can be brought before the state courts or the federal courts. (Simmons, 2008)

In civil actions, the plaintiff usually files the case with the court. The attorneys for both parties will present their arguments to the court as to why they believe that the plaintiff or defendant should win in the case. The burden of proof comes from the plaintiff and the defendant must be able to disprove the evidence by the plaintiff. In civil cases, a vote of only 9 of 12 jurors is needed for a defendant to be found guilty. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge then determines the amount of damage or punitive damage cost that the defendant must pay to the plaintiff. (Simmons, 2008)

Criminal actions do not require harm as a prerequisite. Criminal actions involve the breaking of laws and criminal offenses. The object of criminal actions is to address the crime that was committed by the defendant. The goal of criminal actions is to determine the...
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