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What’s the Difference Between a Civil Case and a Criminal Case?

Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

People who have been arrested or accused of committing a crime need a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney.  People who are suing other people or businesses for money need a civil attorney. Civil lawyers also handle actions where one party is trying to prevent another party from doing something or when one party is trying to enforce another party to complete something that was relied on. In a criminal case in Fort Lauderdale the accused is called the defendant. The other party in a Fort Lauderdale criminal case is the Broward County State Attorney’s Office. In a civil case the party that files the lawsuit or petition is called the plaintiff and the party they are accusing of wrongdoing is either called the respondent or defendant.

The burden of Proof in Civil Cases and Criminal Cases

In a civil case, an individual brings a lawsuit against another individual or business.  The person or entity who brings the lawsuit is called the “plaintiff” because they make a complaint.  It is the plaintiff’s burden to prove the Respondent’s wrongdoing by a standard called the preponderance of the evidence.

In a criminal case, the State attorney’s office bears the burden of having to prove their case against the defendant beyond and to the exclusion of any reasonable doubt.

The standard of proof in a criminal case is much higher than that of a civil case because of the potential penalties including the loss of life and or liberty.

Legal Penalties in Civil Cases

The punishment for criminal acts is very different from civil wrongdoing.  When a defendant is found liable in a civil case, the jury will order the defendant to pay money to the plaintiff.  This is often the situation in personal injury lawsuits.  The defendant might have to pay for medical bills and possibly pain and suffering.  Some states allow punitive damages as well.

Types of Civil Cases

There are many different types of civil cases. Some of the common ones are auto accidents, slip and falls, wrongful death, defamation, medical malpractice and breach of contract.  Some other common civil actions include restraining orders, divorce cases and landlord/tenant issues.

Types of Criminal Cases

Criminal cases range in severity. On the low end of the spectrum, you have misdemeanor cases. Misdemeanor cases are classified as either first degree or second degree. First degree misdemeanors are the more serious and are punishable by up to one year in the county jail or 12 months-probation. Some common misdemeanors in Fort Lauderdale include driving under the influence (DUI), battery, assault, petit-theft, criminal mischief, marijuana possession and trespass. In Felony criminal cases, the penalties are based upon the classification of the charge. Third degree felonies such as drug possession or grand theft are the least serious and are punishable by a maximum of 5 years Florida state prison. Second degree felonies such as burglary of a dwelling and dealing in stolen property are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. First degree felonies such as drug trafficking are punished by up to 30 years in prison. And then you have cases that are punishable by up to life in prison such as armed robbery and second-degree murders. First degree Murder cases in the State of Florida carry a sentence of either Life in prison without the possibility of parole and or death.

Hiring a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have a criminal case and are in need of a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale then look no further than the Law Office of Matthew Glassman, P.A. The Fort Lauderdale criminal defense law firm handles exclusively criminal cases. Criminal attorney Matthew Glassman has experience handling all types of criminal cases including homicides, domestic violence cases, theft, drug trafficking, burglary, robbery, kidnapping, rape and DUI. Criminal attorney Mr. Glassman is willing to fight for you.