The Key Differences Between Criminal and Civil Law

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Introduction

Law covers a huge amount of different areas and for this reason it is split into two main categories – Criminal and Civil which is also known as Private Law. Each of these areas covers different aspects of the law. Civil law is generally a dispute between individuals whereas Criminal law states what behaviour is acceptable or unacceptable as the case may be. By highlighting the main differences between the two categories, we can build up a clear picture of the way law works.

Criminal law is made up of precedents which are guidelines that we have to follow. If we do not follow these guidelines known as laws we are at risk of punishment. If a person commits a crime, they are sent to court to receive a suitable punishment. When a crime is committed, it is committed against the state with ‘the state’ meaning all of us. (Class Notes, 2009)

There are currently thought to be approximately eight thousand crimes that can be committed in the United Kingdom. These vary from a bald tyre right up to worst crime of murder. Within the criminal section there are various laws which can be made by an act of parliament, a statute or legislation. Certain councils have the power to create laws known as bye-laws which is delegated legislation entrusted to the councils. Senior Judges also have the power to create laws; these laws are known as precedents. (Crime and justice, ND)

In our criminal justice system there is one important rule which is known as the presumption of innocence, “A defendant is presumed to be innocent until he pleads guilty in court or, if he pleads not guilty until he is proved to be guilty in court.” (Class notes, 2010.) This means the jury or magistrate must be sure the defendant is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

The Court system with in criminal law consists of: House of Lords; Court of Appeal (criminal division); Queen’s Bench divisional Court; Crown Court and Magistrates Court. The Magistrate Court sees everyone that commits...
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