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Distinguishing Criminal Cases in the Legal System

At The Law Office of Monte J. Robbins, Esq., we believe that understanding the essentials of the legal system is crucial for every individual. It is important to recognize the distinct differences between the two primary categories of court cases: criminal and civil law. Here's a concise breakdown of what characterizes a criminal case:

Criminal cases emerge when the state, through a prosecutor, seeks to sanction someone for an act deemed criminal by legislative bodies. Contrarily, civil cases typically revolve around conflicts regarding the rights and responsibilities that individuals and entities are bound by in law. The principal distinctions between criminal and civil proceedings include:

  • In a criminal trial, it is the prosecutor – representing state authority, not the victim – who initiates and steers the prosecution. It is within the prosecutor's purview to press or drop charges irrespective of the victim's wishes. Contrast this with civil disputes where the aggrieved individual instigates the legal action. However, if one perceives the prosecutor as a proxy for the community harmed by the crime, the difference here isn't as stark as it seems.
  • A guilty verdict in a criminal case can result in fines, incarceration, or both. In civil judgments, the accountable party may be ordered to compensate through financial payments or relinquishing property but isn't subject to imprisonment. The concept of "debtors' prisons" for failure to fulfill a civil judgment is obsolete.
  • Defendants who cannot afford legal representation in criminal cases are provided with attorneys at the government's expense. Civil case litigants, however, often have to either self-represent or hire their own legal counsel, with a few exceptions such as juvenile court cases and particular instances of civil contempt that might involve incarceration.
  • The burden of proof in criminal trials requires the prosecutor to establish the defendant's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt," a higher evidentiary standard than in civil cases. In civil matters, the plaintiff must prove the defendant's liability based on a "preponderance of the evidence," meaning there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true.
  • While defendants in criminal cases are nearly always eligible for a jury trial, civil claimants are entitled to a jury in certain case types, but not across the board.

It's important to note that certain behaviors may breach both criminal and civil statutes. One might face criminal prosecution by the government and simultaneously confront a civil lawsuit for monetary relief from the victim. The notorious 1995 situation involving O. J. Simpson exemplifies this: he was acquitted in criminal court for murder charges, yet found "liable" in a civil trial for wrongful death, thereby incurring a substantial monetary judgment.

Should you have questions or require legal representation in a criminal case, The Law Office of Monte J. Robbins, Esq. stands ready to bring clarity to your legal journey and to protect your rights vehemently. Reach out to us at 303-355-5148 for legal counsel.

Client Reviews
"An excellent lawyer choice for my son who was charged with driving while his license was revoked. DMV had mistakenly sent (3) letters of revocation to the incorrect address, so I hired Monty to prove that my son never knew his license was revoked. Monty kept me informed at all times as to what was happening and what he doing to prove my son's innocence in this matter. We were to appear in court on 29 March 2012 and Monte informed us on 27 March 2012, that the case had been dismissed!!! Monte charged a fair, flat rate for what he did in this matter and should the need arise to hire a lawyer or to recommend a lawyer, I would not hesitate to give Monte's name.” Linda
"I consulted three other attorneys on my traffic offense in Colorado and none of them thought I could beat it. Then I consulted with Monte Robbins. He not only relieved my warrant without my presence in Colorado, but he got my habitual driving offense reduced to an infraction. I was up against the wall on this case but thanks to Monte miracles are possible. I have hired my share of attorneys and Monte Robbins has produced the best results for me yet. After being without my driving privileges for ten years I paid a small fine and am legal with a clean record. I Highly recommend this attorney." Steve
"I hired Monte J. Robbins to represent me. He gave 110% to my case never rushed me off the phone, quick to gather all information regarding my case. Monte is very knowledgeable and helped me out a lot. He kept me informed every step of the way through my case. I was always able to get a hold of him for any questions i had. The outcome of my case was way better then i had expected. Monte did a excellent job on my case and I would highly recommend him to anyone. Monte won my case and I am confident that he can do the same for anyone else." Jeremy