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.



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.



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