How They Work
If you are new to the civil case process, this pamphlet will walk you through everything you need to know to equip yourself with the long process that lies ahead.
The start of the lawsuit begins with filed papers called pleadings. What happens is that the plaintiff formally files a complaint to the court against the defendant. The defendant is also given a copy of the complaint and is allowed to reply with what is called an answer. This holds their side of the complaint, a dispute to the complaint, or a conformity to the complaint. Once the complaint and answer are filed, the trial process continues to the next step, called discovery.
During discovery, all and any evidence is gathered from both parties in order to prepare for trial. The plaintiff especially must reach a preponderance of evidence needed in order to fully prove the guilt of the defendant; otherwise, the case will be thrown out or the defendant will be proven innocent. Once all evidence is collected, however, a pre-trial conference may ensue.
During the pre-trial conference, a judge takes the time to organize what is happening amongst both parties and they may set a trial date. It is usually during this conference that disputes will be regulated. The process of the dispute will either be deemed as a meditation or an arbitration. A meditation is when both parties decide to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. The dispute may not be resolved, meaning the defendant may not be proven guilty or innocent, but a resolution will be made and the parties must agree to it. An arbitration is when a third party will be called in to decide whether the defendant is found guilty or innocent. The arbitrator's decision can hold the same weight as a court decision. If this does not happen, however, then the civil case will be continued with a trial.
Before the trial, the defendant will be sent a summons to ensure that the defending party shows up to court. Once everyone is present at a set date, the trial may begin. This is where all and any evidence will be presented from both sides of the party to the jury. Once all evidence is given, the jury will reach a verdict based upon the defendant: guilty or not guilty. The judge will then either convict or acquit the defendant. If convicted, the defendant will receive a punishment, but they have the option to appeal their case to a higher court for revision and possible change of verdict. If acquitted, then the defendant is innocent and let go.
That surmises the basics of a civil case process. We hope you are well informed because we will do our absolute best in representing you.
- Madeleine Nieto & Co.