Differences between criminal and civil cases

When hiring the services of a lawyer, you may not be clear about the differences between a criminal case and a civil case. Let’s see when we apply one or the other and the salient features of each.


Criminal and civil cases: differences

First of all, you should know that civil law deals with relationships between natural and/or legal persons. Whereas criminal law turns the defendant against society when he/she breaks the law.


In a criminal case, the defendant can be sentenced to heavy fines or even imprisonment. Whereas in a civil case, the dispute can be settled with a financial settlement or a sanction imposed by the judge. However, even if guilty, in a civil case the convicted person does not go to prison.


Another fundamental difference between civil and criminal cases is that in civil cases only 10 of the 12 jurors must reach the same decision in order to have the result. In criminal cases, the decision must be unanimous.


Therefore, the simplest cases are dealt with in civil cases and the most serious cases in criminal cases. We look at this in more detail below.


Civil law cases

Civil law governs private relations between persons, whereas in criminal law it is part of public law due to criminal acts.

Criminal law is the law that punishes crimes. For a person to be found guilty of committing them, the prosecution has to prove it. Moreover, it will be a crime against all citizens, not just the person involved.

Civil law cases include different branches such as personal law, the law of persons, the law of obligations, family law, property law and inheritance law. It is therefore not to be confused with criminal cases.

This area usually deals with marriages, divorces, inheritance, buying and selling or renting a property, etc. In other words, mutual obligations are created between persons in a partnership.

The person who initiates the civil case is known as the plaintiff, while the person against whom the claim is brought is the defendant. There may be more than one plaintiff or defendant.

Prior to the jury trial, the plaintiff serves the court with a writ of summons stating the grounds of complaint against the defendant and requesting a certain amount of money from the defendant to repair the damages.

The defendant, for his part, issues an answer explaining why he believes he is not responsible for the damage. In fact, the answer may give rise to a counterclaim. In other words, the defendant would be suing the plaintiff.

This set of documents are known as pleadings. They are not standard evidence, but assertions made by both sides. In order to deliberate, the jurors pay attention to the issues described by the judge.


Criminal law cases

When it comes to criminal law cases, the state uses a variety of means to punish citizens who commit crimes.

Its aim is to punish people for behaviour that harms society as a whole, in order to maintain public order and ensure the safety and integrity of persons and property.

Primarily, it is a right focused on convicting people who commit crimes, whether minor or serious, but which affect society as a whole.

At the moment a person is accused of breaking a certain law, the prosecutor makes a formal accusation or accusatory report against the accused. This is where the charges are described, but they are not evidence.

The accuser is the state and the representative of the state is the prosecutor or assistant prosecutor. The person who is brought before the court is the accused.


When to hire a lawyer?

Civil law problems are the order of the day, which is why the services of a lawyer are often hired to solve such problems. For example, it is common in the case of inheritances, divorces, purchase or sale of homes, etc. Cases that are completely up to date.


Don’t know what your case is? We can help you

Although we have tried to make clear the differences between civil and criminal cases, if you still have doubts, remember that we are here to advise you and help you to answer all your questions.


In most cases we are talking about civil cases and they are usually solved without any problems, so it is something that, although it can keep us awake at night many nights, they are the order of the day and are solved quickly.


Do not hesitate to tell us about your problem and we will inform you about everything. Whether for civil or criminal matters, we are at your side to handle your case and obtain the best possible outcome.