There are numerous crimes that are heard in various courts systems. Not all criminal cases go to trial, and not all cases involve capital offenses. In civil court, you are neither guilty nor innocent, but can be found, through a preponderance of the evidence, to be negligent and liable for injuries caused. Civil lawsuits involve a plaintiff seeking monetary damages for an injury caused.
Scenario: You are working as a paralegal in a law firm and receive a call from a potential client. The client informs you that her 18-year-old son was out with his friends last night around 11 PM. They were fooling around, kicking a ball outside of a restaurant and her son broke the front window of the restaurant. The son and his friend fled the scene before they were seen and before the police arrived. She is concerned that her son may be arrested and incarcerated for a lengthy sentence. She is also concerned about being sued by the restaurant owner.
Based on what you have learned about the differences between criminal and civil law, draft an email for the lawyer you work for that addresses the mother’s concerns:
- Describe the difference between civil law and criminal law in a way that the mother can understand.
- Describe the levels of proof in a criminal trial and how it is different in a civil lawsuit.
- Explain your thoughts on the differences between noncapital and capital offenses to calm the mother’s concerns regarding a lengthy sentence for her son.