A Marine has been accused of driving the wrong way on Route 163 while intoxicated. This drunk driver allegedly caused a car accident that killed two UCSC medical students, while also injured three additional students.
The Marine is charged with murder, gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI counts. The man faces 47 years to life in prison if convicted.
This case brings to mind a common question attorneys get from clients: What is the difference between a civil case and a criminal case?
Some key differences between criminal and civil cases:
- Crimes are considered offenses against the state. Crimes against the state are prosecuted by the state, and the prosecutor, rather than the victim, files the case in court as a representative of the state. In a civil case, the wronged party files the case.
- Criminal offenses and civil offenses usually differ in terms of their punishment. Criminal cases have jail time as punishment, whereas civil cases generally result in monetary damages.
- The standard of proof is different in a criminal case versus a civil case. Crimes typically have to be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt”, whereas civil cases are generally proved by “the preponderance of the evidence,” which means that it was more likely than not that something occurred in a certain way. This difference exists because civil liability is thought of as less blameworthy and because the punishments are less severe.
- Criminal cases almost always allow for a trial by jury. Although civil cases do allow juries in some scenarios, many of them are decided by a judge.
- If a defendant in a criminal case can’t afford an attorney, the state must prove one. A defendant in a civil case is not given an attorney and must pay for one.
- A criminal case does nothing to help those affected by the act of negligence. Only a civil suit can recover damages to help pay for medical bills, time away from work and some compensation for the emotional trauma suffered by the victim and his or her family.
If you are involved in a civil case that caused injury, it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to set things right. Contact Bonnici Law Group to schedule a consultation today.