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Do you ever find yourself wondering what the difference between Civil Law and Criminal Law is? What makes a certain situation criminal? What matters require you to solve them in a court setting? Taking a look at both of these laws and differentiating between the two should answer many of your questions.


There is one main difference between Civil Law and Criminal Law. Civil Law is when a person has his or her rights violated or have disputes with organizations or other individuals. It is a type of law that deals with private issues. Criminal Law must be handled through the court system, and deals with violations of the Criminal Code. If an action is considered harmful to society, that is usually characterized as criminal.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these Laws.


Civil Law

“Non-criminal” law. When one party(plaintiff) claims the other party (defendant) has not fulfilled a legal duty (owed to plaintiff.) The plaintiff usually asks the court to ensure the defendant carries out or fulfills the duty, or provides appropriate compensation. An example of a civil issue would be if a person was sued by another for breaching a contract.  Civil law is not just for individuals, there can even be civil suits at the federal government level and with corporations too. The federal government can sue a hospital for over-billing, and a police department can be sued by an individual if the individual’s constitutional rights are violated.


Criminal Law

If a person violates the criminal code, he or she is usually charged in something called an indictment. This is for serious crimes or misdemeanors. The government who prosecutes the case if the person is charged with a federal level crime. Victims do not always have to be there, and for some criminal cases there may not be one specific victim. An example of this is when people are charged for drinking and driving, because that is considered a serious offence that results in harm or death. Criminal law gives “sentences” to those who commit a crime. The sentence can be a monetary payout, supervision in community, imprisonment or a combination of things.


When Criminal and Civil Cross Over

So we know civil cases involve private disputes, and criminal cases involve cases of harm against people, city, state, country or government. Now, there are some cases that include both civil and criminal charges. An example of this type of instance is when a person intentionally assaults, and is charged with the crime of assault. The crime of homicide or wrongful death may have both criminal charges of fine or prison, but also must pay money to compensate the victim.


If you need further clarification, do not hesitate to contact a trusted legal representative for answers. Contact Minhas Lawyer today if you have a situation you need guidance in relation to a civil or criminal matter.

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Minhas Lawyers Professional Corporation is a multi-practice law firm based in Mississauga. We advise and represent clients across various segments and practice areas.

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