Owing to the fact that criminal activities have become the order of the day in the society, criminal law has gained popularity and is therefore known to many people than civil law. Criminal law aims at advising people to shun activities that attract criminal punishment and which jeopardize public interest . This shows that , criminal law protects both the individual and the public while civil law focuses on protecting individual other than public interest.( lippman ,2009). Criminal law deals with contravention of statutory crime and the appropriate punishment while civil law deals with non criminal, less serious offences such as contracts and social issues such as divorce.
One of the most clear cut difference s between the two laws comes in the way punishment is administered. In criminal law ,the culprit is punished by being sent to prison or by paying fines or by being executed while in civil cases, imprisonment is not done (lippman, 2009). Under criminal law , an offence can either be regarded a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony is a more serious offence and therefore attracts a maximum possible sentence of not less than one year. A misdemeanor on the other hand is considered a less serious offence which attracts a sentence of less than one year incarceration (lippman ,2009).
The burden of proof also is different in the two laws. In criminal law proceedings , the plaintiff has to prove beyond reasonable doubt for the defendant to be convicted. In criminal law, the jury handling such a case has to unanimously agree for there to be a conviction. In the case of civil law proceedings, preponderance of evidence comes in handy (lippman, 2009). If the jury concludes that evidence pointing to the occurrence of the incidence is stronger than the contrary evidence, then the defendant is convicted. Under civil law also ,unanimous agreement between members of the jury is not necessary unlike in criminal law. Whoever has the stronger evidence carries the day in civil law. The court goes by the decision of the majority side under civil law.
The law of the united states argues that In criminal law, the plaintiff is the government unlike in civil law where both a person/ organization or the government can be the plaintiff. In criminal law, only the defendant is allowed to file an appeal while in a civil case, either party in the case can appeal. The law of the united states also states that in a criminal case, the defendant can be found either guilty or not- guilty while in a civil case, both parties may be found partly right and partly guilty.