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Sample Essay on Comparing Civil and Criminal Law

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Sample Essay on Comparing Civil and Criminal Law

Civil law refers to the branch of law concerned with resolving disputes between individuals or organizations while criminal law deals with crimes committed against the state. In civil law the plaintiff files a petition and requests compensation for losses suffered due to an act or an omission by the defender. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed him a duty of care that he neglected and that resulted into losses and the defendant is required by law to compensate him accordingly. Under criminal law the state through prosecution initiates litigation against the accused and if he is found guilty, fines, jail sentence or community service may be served. The burden of proof in civil law lies with the plaintiff and is not as high as in criminal law where the prosecutor must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. However the two are similar in that they both end with an order of the court, must have a judicial official presiding, the party initiating the case bears the burden of proof and both hear out each party on the evidence presented and the law that applies to that particular case(Klein, 1999).

 State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson was a criminal case in which the accused was acquitted of murder of his ex-wife and her friend. The families of the victims sued under criminal law and were issued $ 30 million in damages. The family only needed to prove that more than half of the evidence was in their favor unlike in the criminal proceeding where the standard of proof was much higher. In the later trial Simpson was required to compensate the victims’ families and no risk of a criminal record but in the previous case he faced a prison sentence and a criminal record(Hunt & Rutledge, 2011).




Hunt, D., & Rutledge, D. (2011). California criminal law concepts. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions.

Klein, S. (1999). Redrawing the Criminal-Civil Boundary.Buffalo Criminal Law Review, 2(2), 681-723. 

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