Chopper's guide to the law

friday, 29th, 2012

Civil Law

Civil law concerns the private rights of the individual. It protects people from not only injury to themselves or damage to their property, but also in relation to their financial affairs and those of their families.

people who feel that others have infringed their rights may take cation to protect themselves they can sue or take the offending party to court to remedy the situation.


paragraph of differences:

Civil law: is concerned with the enforcement of individual rights while the aim of criminal law is to regulate behaviour in the community, Establishing a set of guide lines and expectations of each member of society.

Differences in law:

Comparison chart

Civil LawCriminal Law

Definition: Civil law deals with the disputes between individuals, organizations, or between the two, in which compensation is awarded to the victim.Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of statutory and common law that deals with crime and the legal punishment of criminaloffenses.

Burden of proof: "Preponderance of evidence" Burden of proof is initially on the plaintiff and then switches to the defendants."Beyond a reasonable doubt": Burden of proof is always on the state/government.

Examples: Landlord/tenant disputes, divorce proceedings, child custodyproceedings, property disputes (realestate or material), etc.Theft (by deception or unlawful taking), assault, robbery, wanton endangerment, trafficking incontrolled substances, alcohol intoxication, etc.

Type of punishment:A defendant in civil litigation is never incarcerated and never executed. Losing defendant in civil litigationonly reimburses the plaintiff for losses caused by the defendant’s behavior. Either party (plaintiff or defendant) can be found at fault.A guilty defendant is punished by either incarceration in a jail or fine paid to the government, or, in exceptional cases, the death penalty. Crimes are divided into two broad classes: Felonies and Misdemeanors. Defendant can be found guilty or not.

Case filed by:Private partyGovernment

Appeal: Either party may appeal a decision in a civil suit.Only the defendant may appeal a court ruling in a criminal case. The prosecution cannot appeal if the defendant is found not guilty.

Jury: 6-12 jury members possible. All must reach a verdict in which 2/3 of the jurors agree.12 jury members required for federal cases and by most states. Decision must be unanimous. If an agreement cannot be reached the court will declare a mistrial.

The Doctrine of precedent

the doctrine of precedent are strict rules guide judges in making and appling precedents.

  • ratio decidendi: it is the legal reasoning used by the judge to reach the decision in the case other judges will refer to these reasons as a guide in determining what the law should be if a similar case comes to court in the future.
  • stare decisis: this is to stand by what has been decided, the rule is that lower courts will follow the decision (ratio decidendi) of higher courts of the same court hierarchy in similar cases.
  • binding precedent: a precedent that must be followed by lower courts in similar cases. not all cases are binding in future cases.
  • persuasive precedent: when a new situation comes to court that has not been previously considered by our court system there is no binding precedent. the judge may look to decisions made by bother courts as a guide to determining what the law should be in our court system, such precedents are known as persuasive precedents.