Differences between criminal law and civil law

Outline three differences between criminal law and civil law

Criminal law Civil law
This is the law that deals with wrongs committed against the state and is punishable by the state This is a branch of law that regulates the relationship of individuals amongst themselves


The state is directly interested in such disputes as crime is a public wrong committed by an individual against the state. The state prosecutes such offences on behalf of the aggrieved. The state has no direct interest in such conflicts and the aggrieved will file his case in person or through his lawyer of choice
Parties are known as prosecution on one side verses defense on the other side. Parties are known as plaintiff on one side verses defendant on the other side.
Proof of criminal liability shall always be beyond reasonable doubt. Proof of civil liability shall be on a balance of probability.
Parties cannot compromise and withdraw the case from court hence it must move to final legal conclusion. Parties may compromise and withdraw the claim from court before its final legal conclusion
Aim of punishment in criminal law is retribution and deterrence hence punishment is severe and includes; death penalty, imprisonment, fines, community service and probation. Aim of punishment in civil claim is restitution and compensation hence the punishment is not as severe as that of criminal law and includes: damages, injunction, specific performance, rescission, and appointment of receiver, attachment and sale of property, civil jail.

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