The Differences Between Civil and Criminal Law

Law is a systematic system of laws designed and enforced by governmental or social institutions to control behavior, with the precise definition being a matter of perennial debate. For some, it is an abstract set of legal rules intended to serve some purpose or goal. For others, it is more of an intuitive system of customary obligations that are understood and accepted as law by all involved in particular situations. It is also sometimes understood as the art of civilized justice. In any case, the law is the use of knowledge to solve social problems and should be organized around the core values of civilized society.


Historically, law evolved from the common law, a body of law developed by European lawgivers at the time of the Magna Carta. The common law was essentially a set of laws and customs developed over time by ordinary people as their means of dealing with legitimate authority. In fact, the history of law as we know it today is the result of the evolution of the common law over centuries of human interaction. The primary feature of the common law is that it was developed primarily to deal with questions of property, but over the centuries it has developed various extensions that address different issues.

Civil law, which includes common law and privileges and immunities laws, is part of the legal system that deals with disputes between individuals, corporations, and other associations. These laws regulate how people can conduct themselves within a democratic political system and give people the power they deserve to govern themselves and others. Civil law also recognizes and ensures individual rights and freedoms such as freedom of speech and religion, right to political freedom, right to private property, and access to public lands. There are three branches of civil law: the federal courts, the circuit courts, and the bankruptcy courts. Civil law is one of the most complex areas of the law because it requires an experienced and knowledgeable legal system to ensure that the interests of all parties are safeguarded.

Criminal law is the part of the law that deals with crimes against the state and society in general. Unlike civil law, criminal law is not controlled by common law or established privileges and immunities laws. Criminal law is the body of law that holds the power to put a person to death, to imprisonment, to be tried for felonies and for other criminal acts. Criminal law is what many would consider to be the most frightening law of all; people charged with even the least serious offenses such as tax fraud or drug possession face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in prison. Criminal law is the law enforcement and criminal justice system that punishes those who break the law.

Unlike civil law, criminal law does not recognize personal rights, a person’s innocence or guilt, or any other aspect of a person’s life. People accused of criminal acts are considered to be guilty before they have any chance of defending themselves. There are a number of distinct differences between civil and criminal law that distinguish its importance from that of criminal law. Civil law is considered to be less important in a society that makes a large amount of money through the sale of goods and services.

Civil law only applies to persons who are involved in a case and are being charged with an act. While it is true that criminal law covers persons who have done something illegal or are suspected of doing illegal activities, it is not the type of law that will end a person’s sentence or put a person in jail. Unlike criminal law, civil law seeks retribution or atonement for an action or some sort of harm that has been done to another person. While there may be some gray areas in which criminal law overlaps with civil law, such as in the area of slander and libel, it generally does not.

In contrast, criminal law seeks to punish crimes that have been perpetrated. It is the body of law that punishes criminals after they have actually committed the crime. Criminal law does not distinguish between people who merely possess criminal tendencies and people who actually commit crimes. Criminal law is very broad and covers a number of different behavior. If a person steals, commits fraud, sells drugs, embezzles, or causes harm to others, then they could be charged with a variety of different crimes.

Unlike civil law, criminal law does not allow for rehabilitation. Unlike many types of law, including labor law, contract law, and real estate law, those who commit crimes do not often think about why they did what they did. Criminals often have no personal loss, no financial loss, no work experience, and no social network. Criminal law is usually the result of an action that was motivated by the person’s desire to attain a certain result. As such criminal law is a bit more complicated and requires a more in-depth analysis.