Civil Law vs Criminal Law

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We have the Criminal Court system; it is completely separate from the Civil Court system, where the business cases are conducted. It gets puzzling since some of the times, the two overlap. That you have a case that takes place in Criminal Court and then it’s also brought in Civil Court.

First of all, a bit of nomenclature. When we talk about a criminal, we are talking about guilt. So if someone is found guilty of a Criminal Case, he is guilty in Civil Court, he is responsible. So we’re still talking about a business case. No one could ever be guilty of a business lawsuit, right? Thus, criminal always guilty, civil always liable.

Another fundamental concept between these two elements is the type of evidence that needs to be obtained. Guilt or liability in criminal cases, guilt is established when the evidence is clear beyond a reasonable doubt. It is a difficult standard to meet. It’s a high standard and we want it to be high because we want to be almost certain that someone is guilty before we want to take their life or freedom away. So how much is beyond a reasonable doubt? Well, you can’t put a number on it per se, but approximately, let’s say 95 percent certainty. A jury needs to be ninety five percent certain that someone committed the crime in order to convict, if you are even six percent uncertain, you have to acquit them. So, in a case like the O.J. Simpson case where he was found not guilty, he was acquitted of the murder of his ex wife. His defense team was able to instill just enough doubt just even 6 percent or 5.1 percent doubt that he was guilty if they were even get to that standard now. There are a lot of people think, in a case like O.J. Simpson, oh yeah, he did, or he must have done it. The jury did not find that reason beyond a reasonable doubt standard, it’s high. We want to air, and overall we want to air on the side of not convicting, then we want to air on the side of convicting too many people. So that’s why we have a high standard.

 On the civil side, it’s a much different standard. It is called “preponderance of the evidence”. How much is that? 51 percent certainty, if you are fifty one percent certain that they were negligent, then they are liable. So it’s a much easier standard of what’s at stake, it’s just money we’re never putting somebody in jail and a business case were never putting them to death, we were just putting them to fines, taking their money or collecting monetary damages.

There are a couple of other terms where we have a distinction. So when we talk about murder, that’s a criminal issue, so you’re guilty of murder. Murder has a sister on the civil side and that’s wrongful death, so if in the case of O.J. Simpson case, he was found not guilty on the criminal side but he was found liable. The families of his ex-wife met that fifty one percent standard they had, they didn’t have ninety five percent evidence, but they had fifty one percent evidence. So they were able to really take his wealth. That’s why Simpson immediately moved from California to Florida one of the few states whose statute that says, in a civil case, you can take their money, but you can’t take their house. In California, you could liquidate the house. Therefore, his strategy, he figured he was probably toast in the civil side,