Criminal law is the area of criminal law that deals with criminal behavior. It also includes private civil law, which is governed by a system of laws designed to protect individual rights guaranteed by the constitution and laws. This area of the law tends to be very complicated for those who are just entering the field, so there are a variety of resources available to assist those in need. The U.S. Department of Justice offers many different resources to help individuals learn more about this area of the law.
A criminal law attorney
A criminal law attorney is an attorney that defends clients charged with crimes. Crimes are defined as criminal conduct, which can include a wide range of conduct. Some of the most common criminal activities include murder, arson, assault, DUI/DWI, embezzlement, theft, fraud, kidnapping, hit-and-run, conspiracy, sexual assault, DUI/DWI, solicitation, conspiracy, rape, hit-and-run, and several other criminal acts. Each of these offenses is punishable by a fine, time served in jail, loss of license, and other serious penalties. Because each crime has distinct elements, an attorney needs to understand each specific case to effectively defend their client.
When we hear the word “crime,” we usually think of an illegal act. However, there are two kinds of crimes; civil law, which is criminal law, and criminal justice, which is a civil law mixed with criminal law. Civil law generally refers to any gray area of the law, including both criminal and civil court cases. Civil law encompasses a wide range of information related to a person’s civil rights, including negligence, damages, and more. Criminal justice focuses on the prosecution of criminal behavior. For example, if you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you would likely be represented by a criminal defense attorney.
Civil vs criminal law
The major difference between civil and criminal law, as well as what is punished, is how the case is handled. There is no jury trial in a civil case, defendants are represented by private attorneys, and the burden of proof is generally turned over to the government. In a criminal case, defendants are tried by a jury and can present their own defense. Often, the government witnesses are allowed to testify about matters that have been overlooked by the defense attorney.
The United States Constitution vests the power of Congress with the courts, giving them the power to try criminal acts. The United States Supreme Court, in a case called Georgia v. Commonwealth, held that the trial process required a “fair trial” for the accused. For a defendant to win a conviction, there must be reasonable doubt about the guilt of the charged party. While all criminal acts are considered felonies, there are some other types of criminal acts that do not fall into this category. These include what is commonly known as “white collar” crimes-fraudulent billing, embezzlement, insider trading, conspiracy, perjury, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, bank fraud, etc.
Difference in punishment
The major differences between criminal law and civil law are that in a criminal case, the punishment is based on the nature and gravity of the crime committed, whereas in civil cases, the punishments are meant to deter the conduct in the future. Therefore, the punishment can range from heavy jail sentences to hefty fines or even some form of restitution in a criminal case. On the other hand, in civil cases, monetary damages can be awarded to the victim. This money can be used to offset losses or to pay for medical or funeral expenses.
Difference in purpose
Many people don’t realize that criminal law and civil law, especially when they are put side by side, are designed for different purposes. For instance, in civil courtrooms, there is usually an adversarial process in which the plaintiff (the person seeking compensation) must first prove their damages. Next, their alleged criminal acts have to be proven by witnesses who are called to testify. Finally, all of the evidence that supports the plaintiff’s claim needs to be presented so that a jury can decide if they in fact have a valid case against the defendant. In the end, it is up to a jury to determine if the defendant was guilty of the crime charged.
While in a criminal trial a defendant is found guilty, in civil courtrooms they can still seek monetary compensation from the party who has wronged them. In most states, a plaintiff only needs to prove that they were harmed, not that they were guilty. However, if they prove that they were wronged, they may be able to get additional damages such as punitive damages, or damages that compensate them for the loss of time, emotional distress, etc. However, the damage awarded will always be less than what a defendant would be entitled to in a criminal trial. Because of this, someone rarely finds themselves facing criminal charges, although sometimes people find themselves in serious financial problems and are faced with the possibility of having to go to court.