Criminal CaseCivil Case
A criminal case is when an individual is arrested and charged with a crime.  A civil case is a lawsuit arising from one person suing another for “damages”.  Damages are in the form of money.  
  • A private citizen cannot file a criminal case against another person; this can only be filed by a federal, state, or local government. I
  • If you’re a victim of a crime, you can press charges, but it’s ultimately up to the prosecutor to determine whether the person will be arrested.
  • Penalties in a criminal case could be probation, fines or financial penalties, community service, or imprisonment.
  • Crimes are defined by the jurisdiction.  What one state penalizes, another may not.  
  • The plaintiff is the one bringing forth the suit. 
  • The defendant is defending themself against the suit.  
  • Plaintiffs and defendants can be persons or companies.  
  • Personal injury suits such as car accidents, bike accidents, pedestrian accidents, workers’ comp cases and animal attacks are all civil cases.


These definitions are very general.  For an understanding of how these terms relate to your case, contact our office.  We are happy to help you understand your rights and your legal options as well as the process of how your case will work.  

Plaintiff is the person bringing about the suit.  in the case of a criminal matter, it will most often be referred to as “State vs” rather than a person’s name. 

Affidavit is a sworn statement.  These are used in both civil and criminal cases.  

Statute of Limitations is the time frame set by legislation where affected parties need to take action to enforce rights or seek redress after injury or damage.

Appellant is the person who is appealing the decision or order of the Court. 

Jurisdiction is the area in which something takes place.  This can relate to a Court’s jurisdiction in deciding which court should hear a case or it can pertain to a general area such as where a case took place.   

Order is a decision made by the Court. 

Opening Statement usually is the start of the case for one of the parties.  Each side can do an opening statement.  It is the attorney’s opportunity to lay out their case to a judge or jury. 

Closing Argument is the wrap up of all of the evidence in the case.  Each side will do a closing argument where the attorney will lay out how the evidence during the trial either filled the elements of the cause of action or how it failed to do so. 

Motion to Suppress – this is a request by a party in the case to have some type of information removed (suppressed) from the jury or the judge. 

Deposition is a sworn statement made by a part with some relationship to the case.  It is given outside of the court room testimony.  This can be a witness or a party in the case.   

Testimony a sworn statement given in court by a witness.  

Discovery is the process of sharing information about the case to the opposing side.  

Worker’s Compensation is the legal process to provide benefits to a person who has been injured within the scope of their job.  




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