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3 Differences Between a Criminal Lawyer and a Civil Lawyer

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The main difference between criminal and civil cases is that a crime is considered an offense against society as a whole, whereas civil cases are usually between two individuals. If you encounter a legal situation where a lawyer is needed, it is important to know the difference between criminal and civil lawyers.

An example of a civil case is when Bret Michaels sued CBS because he suffered an injury at the Tony Awards in 2009. He claimed he was not properly instructed on how to exit the stage. He broke his nose and suffered a brain hemorrhage.

An example of a criminal case that is well-known is the O.J. Simpson case. He was charged with the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson. This is obviously criminal because he went on trial for murder, whereas Bret Michaels was personally suing CBS for his injury.  

In criminal cases, imprisonment is a factor. In civil cases, this is almost never the case and usually the plaintiff receives a monetary value. Whatever the case, hiring a lawyer is important to make sure justice is served and those involved know their rights. The law is often a grey area, which is why professional help is often needed.

  • Civil Lawyers Represent People in Different Areas of Law that Aren’t Criminal

In simple terms, civil cases happen when someone sues someone else. This takes place in financial situations and often between companies. Civil cases also include: injury law, finance law, immigration law, family law etc. Bret Michaels suing CBS because he was injured on their set is an example of a civil case because CBS didn’t explicitly break a law. Bret Michaels could sue for negligence for example because he felt that CBS didn’t provide him with proper instructions when exiting the stage.

Criminal lawyers deal with defendants who have broken the law. Both civil and criminal cases can be complicated due to stakes and due to the fact that there are always two sides to every story. It may appear that criminal charges are worse, but the monetary settlements that occur between civil cases can be quite large and daunting, as well.

  • Criminal Lawyers Deal with the Burden of Proof

Criminal lawyers and civil lawyers have different things to prove in cases. In civil cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his case by a preponderance of the evidence, according to Cornell Law School. This means that there is greater than a 50% chance (based on current evidence) that the defendant is guilty of causing whatever damage is at hand.

In a criminal case, the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt is on the prosecution. The defendant’s lawyer must then prove innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. This is because there is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in criminal cases.

  • Criminal Lawyers only Represent Defendants

Civil lawyers represent defendants and plaintiffs. Criminal lawyers represent defendants. If you commit a crime or are falsely charged with a crime, make sure to look into the best criminal lawyers in your state. If you live in Colorado and need a lawyer, look into hiring a Denver criminal attorney. Looking for lawyers in larger cities is usually a great place to start because there are more options.

Knowing your rights and having a lawyer to reinforce that knowledge is essential to represent yourself and being represented. Make sure to read up on the types of law and the lawyers in your area when looking to take legal action or when you are in legal trouble.