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A Guide Through the Civil Law

In a Civil Court case, there are several steps you and your lawyer have to go through.


Before we begin through the steps, there is something you must know, whether you are a plaintiff or the defendant. Which are you? The plaintiff is the one who is suing, and the defendant is the one being sued. Once you've figured that out then we may move on to the steps.


The first step is to file a complaint. Your lawyer will file a complaint with the proper court. What is a complaint? A complaint is a formal statement naming the defendant and describing the lawsuit. In response to the complaint, the court will send a summons, which is a formal legal document against a person and orders you to appear in court on a certain day and time because you are either a witness or a defendant.


The second step is the defendant responding to the charges by having their attorney answer the complaint in two different ways: a pleading, where the complaint and the answer are sent together, or the lawyers on both sides gather evidence to help their case.


The third step, are the pre-trial conferences, where the judge can call both parties in a meeting to help clarify the differences and prepare for the trial. Next, the two parties go for mediation where they are to try to resolve their differences. If that doesn't work, then they go for the arbitration method where an arbitrator is used to settle the dispute.


If the conflict is still not resolved, then the fourth step is to go to trial. The trial can consist of a jury made up of six to twelve people or just the judge alone. The plaintiff will present their side first and then the defendant will present their side, and then both will summarize their cases. When both sides finish presenting their preponderance of evidence, the judge or the jury will decide the case outcome.


The fifth and final step is the verdict or decision. The outcome will either be that the other person has to pay for the court costs, or the other person will win and you will have to pay the court costs. If you do not like the verdict and think the wrong outcome occurred, then you have the right to appeal the decision.

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