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There are many facets to the legal system, but most cases can be divided into two broad categories: civil litigation and criminal prosecution. But how do you tell the difference?

Who is involved, and why?

In criminal prosecution cases, a government entity – local, state, or federal – initiates the process. Criminal prosecutions are based on allegations that the defendant violated a statute or criminal code. The wrongful action allegedly committed by the defendant is one considered to impact society as a whole negatively.

On the other side, civil litigation is most likely to be initiated by an individual or a business. Civil litigation is based on violations of a statute or a common law, and the wrongful action committed only affects the individuals pursuing legal action. Civil litigation includes non-criminal legal activities, such as divorce, property disputes, breach of contract, or bankruptcy.

Bearing the Burden of Proof

In criminal prosecution cases, the court adheres to the presumption of innocence – the concept that guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Approximately 90% certainty, or more significant, must be that the defendant committed the wrongful action.
In civil litigation cases, the court only requires a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of evidence just means that there must be proof that it is more likely than unlikely that the defendant committed the wrongful action.

Penalties for Wrongful Action

It is essential to know that the details of every individual case, civil or criminal, impact the outcome. There is no one size fits all formula to calculate the results of a case. It is in your best interest to consult an attorney you trust to get the clearest picture.

The defendant in a criminal case may have to pay fines, be incarcerated, or otherwise be ordered to make restitution. Restitution is just an additional fine paid directly to the victim or to the Compensation to Victims of Crime Fund established by Subchapter J, Chapter 56B of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

The defendant will most likely be asked to pay damages in civil litigation cases. In some cases, such as breach of contract, the court may order that the defendant fulfill the original action they promised. For example, if the original contract stated that the defendant would repaint the prosecution’s fence, the court may order that the defendant complete this action.

Finding the Right Texas Attorney for Your Case

The Estes Law Firm, based in Richmond, Texas, has served our area for years. Our specialties lie in motor vehicle accidents, personal injury claims, wrongful death cases, and labor and employment claims, but our savvy attorneys can accommodate various requests.

If you are trying to figure out the right path forward, don’t hesitate to contact us today at 281-205-8079 to connect with one of our skilled and compassionate team members. We offer free case evaluations to serve you without financial barriers best.

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