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The Difference Between Civil Cases & Criminal Cases

  • How does criminal case differ from a civil case?

In civil cases, one party (either an individual or business) seeks compensation for damage done and initiates the civil case. In criminal cases, the state initiates the criminal case due to the damage that the individual has done that not only affects themselves, but also society. In some cases, a situation can lead to both civil and criminal action depending on the case.

Examples of Civil Cases

  • Contract disputes (property damage, clarity of contract)
  • Family law (divorce or child custody disputes)
  • Tenant cases
  • Personal injury
  • Discrimination against employees

Examples of Criminal Cases

  • Theft
  • Battery
  • Sexual assault
  • Murder
  • Drug dealing
  • Arson
  • Money laundering or fraud


Criminal cases generally involve harsh punishment considering the fact they affect the society as a whole, not just the individual committing the crime. If an individual has been proven guilty, they will typically face prison time and in worst cases, face the death penalty depending on the state that they are in. Death penalty would not be the case in the state of California;  however, life imprisonment would be sufficient punishment.

Civil cases do not involve imprisonment as they are simply damages between two or more parties. Instead, these cases generally involve monetary or financial compensation. This would include paying a fine or financially compensating for the damages.

Civil & Criminal Action

Civil cases differ from criminal cases in various ways, however in some situations they may intersect into one case. For example, this may occur when a criminal trial is dismissed in court but the family of the affected individual or individual themselves is still seeking financial compensation.

It is advisable to seek legal guidance from our office today as we strive to help guide you with your specific case. 

Attorney Ramona Kennedy cares about your case and will fight for you.

You can contact attorney Ramona Kennedy Law Offices (Kennedy Law LC) for an initial consultation and case evaluation. The first consultation is free of charge. 

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Ramona Kennedy Law Offices (Kennedy Law L.C.) is committed to answering your questions about Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Immigration (including Criminal ) Law in California.

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