Civil cases refer to cases that deal with private disputes in which one person files a case against another, suing them for failure in performing a legal duty. On the other hand, criminal cases deal with crimes against the state. Because the two cases are different, they follow different trial processes as well. Here’s how the legal system works for each.
How is the Sentence Passed in Criminal Cases?
Imagine Frank is a suspect in a burglary crime—the police will arrest Frank and charge him with burglary. The police will then reach out to the County’s prosecutor and share the information of the arrest with them. The prosecutor will then file charges with the county’s court.
Frank will then be presented before the judge in his initial hearing. If he hasn’t been appointed an attorney by this point, a public defender will be appointed for him for the first hearing. He will then consult his lawyer to submit a plea for being guilty or not guilty. After the first hearing, the judge will release Frank on bail or detain him until the next court date.
The Criminal Law protects Frank and his rights until his final sentence—for example; the law assumes Frank to be innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. According to the Fifth Amendment, Frank also has the right to request due process, a jury trial. The case is then taken to the Supreme Court where the jury listens to the evidence before making a verdict. As mentioned before, the prosecutor must convince the jury that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
The jury then deliberates and discusses the evidence to come down to a decision. If it finds Frank not guilty of the crime, then the trial ends and he’s free to go; but if Frank is found to be guilty, then the judge will sentence him for a certain number of years.
If Frank and his attorney think that Frank shouldn’t have been found guilty or that there was a problem with the trial, then his attorney can appeal with Indiana’s Court of Appeals. If the defendant is charged with murder and sentenced to life without parole, or death, then they can appeal to Indiana’s Supreme Court directly.
How is the Sentence Passed in Civil Cases?
Now let’s take another example. Imagine an aggressive driver hit you from behind and you got hurt because of it. Now if you want to sue the driver for damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, you’ll have to get your lawyer on board.
You’ll file a suit with the superior court of Indiana and until the trial is held, both sides will prepare for the case. Both parties are allowed to investigate and gather evidence in support of their side.
The driver may claim that they’re not guilty and the accident wasn’t their fault; an impartial jury is appointed in such cases and their verdict would be the final sentence for such a case. The jury comprises of 6 adults who sit at the trial and listen to the attorneys and witnesses of both sides.
In a civil case, the plaintiff’s attorney has to convince the jury that the defendant is liable by the predominance of evidence, proving that it’s much more likely that the driver is responsible for the accident and your injuries.
After all the evidence has been provided, the judge allows the jury to deliberate—they meet in private, discuss the case and apply the law to reach a unanimous or majority decision. If the jury decides in your favor, it’ll award you $X in damages and the court issues an order for the defendant to pay the damages.
If the defendant thinks that they were wrongly accused or there was a mistake in the trial, their lawyer can appeal to. Indiana’s Court of Appeals
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