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Differences From The Civil Courts

As mentioned above, a criminal action is based on an offense considered to be against the state, brought by a prosecutor. The result sought in a criminal action is usually the imprisonment of the defendant or recovery in the form of a fine.

A civil action is based on an offense against an individual, rather than against the state or community. The plaintiff in a civil action brings the case himself, typically through a lawyer he retains, and typically seeks to recover money from the defendant for the harm caused by the defendant.

Civil issues are never tried in a criminal case, and vice versa.

EXAMPLE: Drunk driving cases involving an injury or death to another person can provide clarification. The driver is prosecuted by the state in a criminal court for his crime of driving while intoxicated and injuring another person, where he is then judged innocent or guilty of breaking the law. Additionally, the driver will often be a sued by the injured party in a civil lawsuit seeking a monetary judgment in compensation for damages suffered.