U. S. Government/Criminal Law vs. Civil Law Notes

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Courts resolve two kinds of legal conflicts, civil and criminal

Criminal Case[edit]

In a criminal case, a court determines whether a person accused of breaking the law is guilty or not guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony.

Criminal Procedure in felony cases
  1. Arrested - A person accused of a crime may be arrested if the police have probable cause.
  2. Jail or Bail - The accused may be committed to a jail or released on bail.
  3. Arraignment - At an arraignment, probable cause is reviewed, the defendant may be appointed an attorney, and a plea is entered: "Guilty or not Guilty".
  4. Trial - A court date is set and a trial is conducted
  5. Verdict - A guilty verdict (decision) may be appealed to the Court of Appeals or directly to the Supreme Court in certain cases.

Civil Case[edit]

In a civil case, a court settles a disagreement between two parties to recover damages or receive compensation

Procedure for civil cases
  1. Complaint - The plaintiff files a complaint to recover damages or receive compensation
  2. Trial - Case can be heard by judge or by jury
  3. Verdict - Cases can be appealed

Juvenile Justice[edit]

For minors under 18.

  • Judges have great latitude in handling juvenile cases
  • Juveniles who commit serious crimes can be tried as adults