July 19, 2024

Are you confused between civil and criminal law? Many people mix the terms civil and criminal law, assuming the same. But they are different, and there are significant differences. In this article, we’ve discussed the difference between civil and criminal law in detail.

On another note, for any civil or criminal law-related help, contact Criminal lawyers in Regina.

Civil Law vs Criminal Law: What is the difference?

Civil law and criminal law are different in many ways. The main difference lies between the purpose and severity of the cases.

Civil law aims to return the victim to the state they were in before the injury or harm. In other terms, the goal is to make things fair.

In contrast, criminal law strives to penalize offenders. It is constructed to stop people from committing new offences. It also aims to create a stable, law-abiding society, which is a more broad objective.

Let’s see the major differences between civil and criminal law in detail below.


A majority of civil law resolves disputes between groups of persons or organizations. The faulty party should co the group or individual they have harmed.

On the other hand, criminal law deals with offences against society. The severity of the punishment varies depending on the offence committed.

Practice area

Civil law covers issues like assets, money, property, separation, child custody during a divorce, etc. In contrast, severe crimes, including rape, murder, assault, robbery, etc., are dealt with under criminal law.


A plaintiff is usually referred to as an aggrieved person or organization who starts a civil law case. In criminal law, the government submits the petition.

Claiming process

To begin a case under civil law, the at-fault party must submit a claim to the judicial authority. 

On the other hand, a plea cannot be submitted directly before a court to begin a case in criminal law. Instead, you must complain to the police to investigate the incident. After that, you must file a court lawsuit.

Area of concern

Civil law ensures that the victim is compensated for their suffering. On the contrary, criminal law holds offenders accountable, defends society, and upholds law & order.


In Civil Law, the plaintiff or the at-fault party sues the defendant. However, in Criminal Law, the law will prosecute the alleged person.


There isn’t any penalty in civil law, but the wronged party is compensated once the case gets resolved. When it comes to criminal law, the severity of the punishment is determined by the types of crime. A fine may also be imposed.

Court’s authority

In civil law, the court’s authority issues a ruling or an order to pay the harmed party’s damages. On the other hand, the court’s criminal law authority includes the ability to penalize, imprison, or release a defendant who has committed a crime.


The defendant is regarded as either responsible or not liable in Civil Law cases. The court regards the defendant as either guilty or not guilty in terms of criminal law.

Do criminal and civil law overlap?

Although criminal law and civil law were intended to handle different misdoings, they can overlap and even have parallels. 


Crimes are acts against the state under criminal law. However, civil and criminal trials will be held in some instances if a sufferer claims civil damages due to the crime.

Again, the decisions in criminal and civil cases may or may not be compatible with one another. A person may be held civilly accountable for the same actions even though s/he is not found guilty of a crime.

Final words

Hopefully, the differences between civil and criminal law are now clear to you. These two most important sectors of law have their own particular rules. Strong constitutions and administrative rules control it.  

However, each one is essential to the smooth operation of a country, so people are bound to obey the rules and laws. And in case you have any confusion, we recommend you consult a lawyer to discuss your case.

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