There are some incidents that can result in more than one legal case. This surprises some people, but this isn’t a violation of the double jeopardy law. It is possible to face a criminal charge and a civil charge in connection with one event. A person can also have one type of case and not the other.

These two types of cases are both handled in the court system, but there are some very specific points that differentiate them.

What are the possible outcomes of each case?

People in a criminal case can face the possibility of time in prison or on probation if they are convicted. These aren’t possible in a civil case. Both types of cases come with the possibility of having to deal with financial consequences. A person who loses a civil case might have to pay a financial award to the other party.

What parties are involved?

The plaintiff in a criminal case is usually the government. In a civil case, the person who has the complaint against another person is the plaintiff or complainant. In both cases, the person who has the charge or claim levied against them is the defendant. It is possible for there to be multiple defendants and plaintiffs or complainants.

Do both cases require legal representation?

You have the right to represent yourself in both cases. However, most people opt to hire representation for both types of cases. This gives them the protection of having someone on their side who knows about the laws and court procedures that might help them with their case.

Source: FindLaw, “The Differences between a Criminal Case and a Civil Case,” accessed May 04, 2018