A summary report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) shows that 335,672 crimes were reported in Georgia in 2015. This number consists of many types of crimes, including theft, arson, and violent crimes, and people will face Georgia courts in a criminal or civil case depending on the circumstances. If you’re involved in either a civil or criminal case, it’s important to understand the law and the differences between each of them.
What Is a Civil Case?
In a civil case, one person or agency (a plaintiff) brings a formal complaint against another person or agency (a defendant) in order to resolve some sort of dispute. A plaintiff’s goal may be to ask the court to order the defendant to pay money owed, make compensation for injuries, or fulfill some other legal obligation. Civil cases may pass through state or federal courts, and a person who loses a civil case is not forced to go to jail as a result of the initial verdict—although a civil case can escalate to criminal in some circumstances. Most commonly, civil cases involve:
- Financial disputes
- Property claims
- Housing issues such as rental agreements
- Personal injury cases from car accidents and slip-and-fall accidents
- Family issues such as a divorce, custody, and child support
You may win or lose a civil case depending on how well you can convince a judge or jury that your side of the argument has more merit.
What Is a Criminal Case?
Like civil cases, an entity brings a case against a person or group known as the defendant; however, instead of a plaintiff, a government agency files the complaint—because criminal offenses are considered crimes against a city, state, or nation. If convicted, criminal offenders are usually punished with jail time or a prison sentence.
Since the state or federal government accuses, the direct victim of a criminal offense doesn’t bring her own case against the offender. In criminal cases, the government must almost always prove to a jury that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to win a conviction. Common criminal offenses include:
- Murder and manslaughter
- Assault and sexual assault
- Felony DUI
- Armed robbery
- Motor vehicle theft
Finding Quality Legal Assistance
Whether you’re the victim of a crime or you need help defending yourself against an accusation, you may need the help of an experienced attorney. The team at Duffy & Feemster can walk you through complicated legal processes, explain strategies for court, and advise you on next steps. Reach out to us by starting a live online chat with one of our representatives.