In criminal cases, action is taken by the state against an individual for a violation of the law. The state may refer to federal, state or local government authorities. A criminal matter can result a sentence such as a fine, probation or time in jail. The sentence is imposed upon a defendant who pleads guilty or is found guilty to keep him from acting in the same manner in the future and also to deter others from acting in a similar manner.
- State vs. You
- Penalty: Jail/Fine
- Person vs. You
- Penalty: Money
In civil cases, the controversy is between two or more litigants, which may include individuals, businesses or government agencies. Most often, the result is an award of money to be paid by one party to the other. The judgment is imposed to make the victim “whole” for the harm that has been caused by the other. A judgment in a civil matter does not include a criminal sentence.
The rules of civil procedure are different than that of criminal procedure because proceedings are different.