3 Differences Between Civil And Criminal Law

Are you even aware of the differences between civil cases and criminal cases or the differences between civil and criminal law?

From the hit television show like “Suits” or “Daredevil” to the comedic take of Marvel’s “She-Hulk”. There is a fascination with how the media portrays the American legal system.

We love to watch, see and listen as lawyers do what they do best: defend the innocent and prosecute the guilty.

But how much do you really know about how the justice system works? 

Before you hire lawyers from Duran & Duran-Schulze, let’s take a crash course on how they differ.

The Basics

Criminal law = law of crimes and their punishments

  • Deals with an individual’s offences against the state or federal government.
  • It may sound literal-like someone physically assaulting government officials
  • An offence against the state means breaking a criminal law established by the government. For instance, drug-related offences come under this law. You can learn more here about these offences and how to get over such charges.

Civil law = the law of civil or private rights.

  • Deals with resolving disputes between one entity with another.
  • Guidelines for these disputes are outlined in official documents like a state’s business, professional, health and/or safety code
  • The cause of action in these cases can be initiated by private as well as public parties.


In simple terms, the difference between civil and criminal laws lies in the codes and statutes used in the practice of each. Basically, all the codes stated above are under civil law. The penal code is the one that dictates criminal law.

1. Conduct

The rules and laws being violated may be between civil and criminal law. The specific conduct at issue also differs.

The conduct at issue in criminal cases is generally more serious than in civil cases and frequently involves intent. Civil cases frequently involve negligent conduct. 

For example, a person intentionally stealing or killing is a criminal offence. While a person forgetting to clean the sidewalk that results in somebody sustaining minor to major injuries.

This doesn’t live up to the standards of a criminal but it is against the rules and gives the person harmed an avenue for seeking justice for damages.


2. Punishment

An important distinction between the two is the type of penalty being paid for being found guilty.

In criminal cases, if lost, the individual being charged with a crime is most likely going to face incarceration or some form of probation.

For civil cases, the resolution to a case often results in financial penalties and/or an order to change behaviour, like a restraining order.

3. Burden of Proof

Another significant distinction between civil and criminal cases is what it takes for a party to win a case. In either trial, the accuser must meet the burden of proof.

In civil cases, the burden of proof is lower. While in criminal law, the standard is that the accused are guilty if the proof of burden is beyond a reasonable doubt.



Criminal and civil laws are worlds apart in a lot of things. But good law firms like DDS law can help you no matter what law it falls under.

Remember, if there were no bad people there would be no good lawyers. In our firm, we have a lot of great ones.

Share with love

Post Author: Abimbola Joseph

Abimbola Joseph is a creative content developer who derives pleasure in encouraging individuals to be the best they can be in all relevant facets of life. She believes that we all have a better version of ourselves which can be leveraged to impact others and make the world a better place. Connect with me on Instagram @abimbolajoe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *