Defense lawyers represent clients in either civil or criminal cases. This article deals with civil defense lawyers. Civil law resolves disputes among persons or entities, and most civil violations are called torts. Non-tort issues covered under civil law include wills, probate and breech of contract. Either a judge or a jury may decide a civil case.Defense lawyers represent clients in either civil or criminal cases. This article deals with civil defense lawyers. Civil law resolves disputes among persons or entities, and most civil violations are called torts. Non-tort issues covered under civil law include wills, probate and breech of contract. Either a judge or a jury may decide a civil case.

Civil defense lawyers handle a wide variety of issues, including, but not limited to:

  • Divorce and child custody
  • Wills and trusts
  • Probate
  • Negligence
  • Slander and libel
  • Medical malpractice
  • Shareholder litigation
  • Consumer issues

Do Civil Cases Involve Crimes?

Civil litigation may result from a criminal act, but civil courts do not determine guilt or innocence. Instead, the court can assign responsibility for a wrongdoing. While civil remedies include neither prison time nor a criminal record, a criminal case can follow on the heels of a civil case ruled in the plaintiff’s favor. A civil case can also follow a criminal case whether the defendant is found guilty or not guilty in the criminal court system.

A civil defendant can face high fines, and punitive damages can run into the millions. Sometimes, the court will bar the defendant from some future act with an injunction. For example, the court may forbid the defendant from any further contact with the victim. A competent defense lawyer will work on your behalf to defend you and to minimize the fines and penalties if the ruling favors the plaintiff.

If there is not enough evidence to bring a criminal charge, the victims can file a civil suit instead of waiting for the state or federal authorities to file charges. During the course of the civil trial, new evidence entered into the record sometimes provides prosecutors with grounds to file a criminal case for the same act.

What’s the Difference Between a Civil and a Criminal Case?

While the same act can find redress in a civil court, a criminal court, or both, there are three major differences between the civil proceedings and the criminal proceedings:

  • In a criminal case, the state brings charges against the defendant. In a civil case, the victim initiates the proceedings.
  • Civil Rules of Procedure differ from Criminal Rules of Procedure. The burden of proof is less stringent in a civil proceeding. In criminal court, the defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil court, the defendant must be found responsible only by a preponderance of the evidence, a somewhat less stringent measure. Further, the jury’s decision need not be unanimous for the defendant to be found responsible.
  • Civil courts levy fines and penalties instead of a prison sentence.

Motions and other legal documents must be filed in a timely manner. If someone sues you, contact a qualified civil defense attorney as soon as possible to act in your behalf.