Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law | Civil vs Criminal

By Shivank Goel|Updated : September 15th, 2022

The constitution of every country has specific laws that its citizens must abide by. These laws can be broadly classified into two categories: Civil Law and Criminal Law. While Civil Law defines people's civil rights and duties, Criminal Law deals with crimes and punishments.

All citizens need to understand the fundamental Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law.

What is Civil Law?

Civil Law is that branch of law that safeguards the rights of individual members of society and provides legal remedies to disputes. It includes cases pertaining to property, contract, tort, family disputes, trade, environment, etc.

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Civil Law aims to rectify wrong-doings and amicably settle disputes. The party who suffers any injury is compensated for the damage. The party who files a complaint to start the litigation is called the plaintiff. Similarly, the party that responds to the complaint is called the defendant. The wrong-doer bears the damage to the extent the wrong done is made good to the aggrieved party.

What is Criminal Law?

Criminal Law defines conduct prohibited by the state that threatens public welfare and safety. The law also prescribes punishment for committing such crimes. The objective is to punish the wrong-doer and to deter him and others in society from repeating it.

Prosecution in Criminal Law begins when an individual reports a crime to the police. The police then investigate the crime and file criminal charges. It is not the individual but the government who files a case against another individual in Criminal Law.

Difference between Civil Law and Criminal Law

Given below is a table that distinguishes between Civil Law and Criminal Law;

Basis of Difference

Civil Law

Criminal Law

Nature

Civil Law deals with wrong-doing related to an individual, which can be made right with monetary compensation.

Crimes committed under Criminal Law are offenses against society and are punished with capital punishment.

Case Commencement

Litigation in Civil Law begins when one party files a case against another. The complaining party is called the plaintiff, and the party that responds to the complaint is called the defendant.

Charges in Criminal Law can only be filed by the government and not an individual. An individual report a crime based on which a case is filed.

Punishment

In Civil Law, the wrong-doer has to reimburse the aggrieved with monetary compensation.

Criminal crimes are severe crimes with harsher punishment. The person found guilty can be sentenced to prison or, in some cases, awarded the death penalty.

Burden of Proof

In the case of Civil Law, the burden of proof first lies with the plaintiff to provide evidence of wrongdoing. It then shifts to the defendant to refute the evidence provided. More than 50% of the evidence is enough to favor the plaintiff in Civil Law.

The burden of proof in cases related to Criminal Law lies with the government to prove the defendant guilty. The defendant will be proven guilty if there is 99% evidence against him.

There is a noteworthy Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law as they serve different purposes. However, both laws are necessary for the smooth functioning of society.

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FAQs on Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law

  • The Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law in terms of nature is that Civil Law deals with wrong-doing related to an individual, whereas Criminal Law deals with crimes that are offensive to the entire society.

  • The Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law in terms of case commencement is that in Civil Law, the suit is filed by the aggrieved party, whereas in Criminal Law, the case is filed by the government.

  • The Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law in terms of punishment is that In Civil Law, the offender has to reimburse with monetary compensation. The punishment in Criminal Law is much harsher, such as fine, imprisonment, or the death penalty.

  • The Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law in terms of the burden of proof is that In Criminal Law, the burden of proof lies with the government. In Civil Law, it first lies with the plaintiff and then the dependent.

  • The four most significant categories of civil law are those that deal with contracts, property, family relationships, and civil wrongs that result in physical harm or damage to property (tort).

  • Defamation, carelessness, contract breach, and property damage are some examples of civil law. Criminal law examples include murder, theft, robbery, assault, etc.

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