Anna's Family Firm

A guide to civil cases

What is a Civil Case?

A civil case is a noncriminal lawsuit. Typically, civil cases involve personal property rights and cover things like divorce, negligence, or contract breaches. The five steps involved in a civil case are described below.

Step One - Complaint

A complaint, or a formal statement describing the lawsuit, is filed by a hired lawyer within the proper court. The defendant is sent a document, highlighting the contents of the complaint and when they are to appear in court, called a summons.

Step Two - Defendant Response

The defendant has the option to respond to the charge with their own attorney. This response combined with the initial accusation are known as pleadings. To work up a proper defense, lawyers from both sides of the case gather evidence.

Step Three - Pre-Trial Discussion

To prepare for the trial, the judge may hold a meeting between both parties that clarifies their disagreements. Or, if the plaintiff chooses, they may ask for a settlement. A settlement is a resolution between parties that can be met before a trial occurs.

Step Four - Trial

If the parties could not come to an agreement, or settle, then a trial is held. A jury pool of 6-12 or a judge may hear the case. The plaintiff is given the floor first, and then the defendant can state their side of the case. After both parties have summarized their stance, the jury or judge decides the case.

Step Five - Verdict

The verdict is the final decision. Either the defendant is charged or, in the case that the defendant is found to be innocent, the plaintiff gets nothing but court cost bills.
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