The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Law: Part 1

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The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Law: Part 1

Both civil and criminal law were created to deter or punish wrongdoing and to compensate for the victim’s losses. So what exactly is the difference between civil and criminal law? We’ll take the next two blog posts to define each and lay out their similarities and what differentiates them. And as a criminal defense law firm in Phoenix, Arizona, we’ll cover criminal law first.

Criminal Law Defined

Justia broadly defines a crime as, “any act or omission of an act in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it.” In essence then, criminal law is a system of law that defines what conduct is classified as a crime and is concerned with the punishment of those who commit a crime. These laws are codified in statutes on the federal, state and local levels. Each state has its own criminal code of law, and they can vary quite widely from state to state. You can find the entire list of Arizona Revised Statutes on the Arizona State Legislature website.

Prosecution of Crimes

In criminal cases, two parties argue a case: the prosecution and the defense. It is never the individual’s or victim’s role to bring a criminal case or prosecute a crime. For federal crimes the government, on behalf of the people of the United States, will prosecute the case. When a crime occurs on a state level, the state’s attorney office will prosecute the case. The criminal in question, along with his or her lawyer(s) constitute the defense.

In a previous post we laid out the process for criminal cases in Arizona. Briefly stated, there is the arrest, the initial appearance before a judge, the preliminary hearing, Grand Jury, the arraignment, and finally the trial. If a defendant is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt during the trial, they will receive a sentence from the court. Punishment may include probation, fines, imprisonment, and even death.

The Best Defense

Todd Coolidge, of Coolidge Law Firm, is a knowledgeable and trusted certified criminal law specialist with over two decades of courtroom experience. When you hire him, he will handle your case personally. He will leave no stone unturned in the investigation of the charges you face and ensure every client gets the time and attention their case deserves. If you’re facing a felony or misdemeanor charge in Arizona, contact us today. And be sure to check out our next post, where we will delve a little deeper into the difference between civil and criminal law.


Photo by Gabriel Ghnassia on Unsplash (11/28/2018)