Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

An important difference between civil law and criminal law is that civil law plays an instrumental role in resolving conflicts and issues, whereas criminal law deals with cases involving offenses and crimes. 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.

Difference between Civil Law and Criminal Law PDF

While Civil Law defines people’s civil rights and duties, Criminal Law deals with crimes and punishments. All citizens must understand the fundamental difference between civil and criminal law. We have facilitated all the parameters and basis of the difference between civil law and criminal law; you can walk through the article to get complete knowledge.


Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law

There is a noteworthy difference between criminal law and civil law, as they serve different purposes. However, both laws are necessary for the smooth functioning of society.

  • Civil law and criminal law vary on numerous factors, such as the nature of the law, burden of proof, punishment etc.
  • Another major difference between civil law and criminal law in Indian Judicial System is in cases involving civil law, the plaintiff must present proof to support their stance, while in cases involving criminal law, the Government must present the proof.

Civil Law vs Criminal Law

Difference 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 offences 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.

The government and not an individual can only file charges in Criminal Law.

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 guilty person 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 stays with the plaintiff to provide evidence of wrongdoing.

It then shifts to the defendant to rebut the proof or 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.

Acts Family Laws, Commercial Laws, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 The Indian Penal Code, 1860

The Indian Evidence Act 1872

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Procedural Law Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Civil Law and Criminal Law

Under Civil law, the case is filed by a Private party, while under Criminal law case is filed by Government/State. The characteristics of civil and criminal law are briefly explained below. Read about the two foundations of law and their features in more detail.

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 about the property, contract, tort, family disputes, trade, environment, etc.

  • Civil Law aims to rectify wrong-doings and amicably settle disputes.
  • The party who suffers any injury is compensated for the damage.
  • The plaintiff is the party who files a complaint to start the litigation.
  • 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.


Key Difference Between Civil Law and Criminal Law in India

The key difference between civil law and criminal law in India is that Civil law deals with acts related to people to which harm caused can be reimbursed by monetary compensation, whereas criminal law deals with an offence that causes harm to an individual, which is a crime against society.

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