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What is the difference between a civil and criminal lawsuit?

In an ideal world, nobody would have to deal with the time and hassle of being involved in a lawsuit. However, in reality, anyone can face getting drawn into a legal case. Whether you are a Las Vegas business owner, manager or everyday person just trying to get by, a variety of situations might land you in legal hot water. Therefore, understanding what constitutes a civil case, versus a criminal suit, can help you be better prepared.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights defines a civil case as that which involves non-criminal matters. As such, civil legal matters can cover a wide variety of issues. You might be sued by a friend or family member in a civil case over something like missing jewelry or a monetary amount if you are accused of damaging the other person’s property. You could be in a civil dispute over an employment-related matter, whether you are the boss or the worker. In some cases, you could be drawn into a legal dispute with the government.

On the other hand, criminal cases are a bit more straightforward. Simply put, criminal lawsuits involve an alleged breaking of the law. The consequences for a criminal case may be more severe and involve jail time, in addition to financial penalties. In a criminal case, generally the defendant is able to appeal under certain conditions, whereas either side may appeal after a civil trial. In previous posts, we have discussed the restrictions applicable to civil appeals.

Because legal matters are often complex, the content in this blog is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer.

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