A civil attorney is not the same as a criminal attorney. Both types of attorneys assist with different types of cases. For example, a civil attorney represents their clients in various lawsuits, while a criminal attorney represents their clients that have been charged with a crime. Lawyers do not typically practice both civil and criminal law, instead they focus on one or the other.
How Civil Attorneys and Criminal Attorneys Differ in Court
In a criminal case, the court will provide a lawyer for the person being charged. This is not true for civil cases. This means that if someone is being sued, the court will not automatically provide them with a lawyer. They must hire their own civil attorney to represent them in the courtroom.
The type of case also influences who is able to press charges. In a criminal case, the state can press charges even when the victim doesn’t want to. However, in a civil case, the victim will have to hire a civil attorney if anyone files suit against them.
Types of Clients that Civil Attorneys Represent
Civil attorneys will represent clients where money is at risk. In civil cases the plaintiff can only seek monetary damages. They are not able to file charges that would place someone in jail. Most civil lawyers are paid a contingency fee if they win their case. This is not something that criminal lawyers are allowed to do.
Civil lawyers can represent someone on either side of an issue. Both the plaintiff and defendant will have a civil attorney. Criminal lawyers only represent defendants because the prosecutor is employed by the government.
In addition to the differences above, there are variations with the way each case is handled. Criminal lawyers have to deal with the burden of proof and raise doubt that their client is not guilty of the crime. However, a civil attorney must only prove negligence and that the defendant’s negligence caused damages more likely than not.
In a civil case, the civil attorneys are required to share information about the case with each other, whereas in a criminal case, the defense can limit the information the prosecution sees.