Is My Case Criminal or Civil?
Criminal vs. Civil Cases
I very often get calls asking: Is my case criminal or civil? Here is a general rule to follow:
- If it has to do with life or liberty, it is criminal.
- If it has to do with money, it is civil.
riminal cases are those where your life or liberty is in jeopardy. In other words your freedom is at stake. These are cases where the state of Utah is involved and has pressed charges against you. The District Attorney’s Office represents the citizens of Utah. Anytime they believe the criminal code has been violated, they press charges against the alleged defendant. The consequence can be fines, probation and incarceration — all having to do with your life or liberty. Do not confuse having to pay a fine as meaning it is a civil case.
Civil cases are those that do not involve the government acting on behalf of its citizens. An individual can make a civil claim against another citizen, corporation, business entity or even the government itself. These types of claims are seeking compensation (money) for alleged damages due to a breached duty. Examples of civil suits include: personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, business torts, and employment law actions.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof is always higher in criminal cases. The state always has the burden of proving that beyond a reasonable doubt a crime was committed. The standard of proof is higher because someone’s life or liberty is at stake.
Essentially, if you have been charged with a crime by the state of Utah, your case is a criminal case and requires experienced criminal defense representation. My name is Catherine Cleveland and I can provide just that using my more than 15 years of experience.