Civil law and criminal law are two entirely different disciplines that are practiced by experienced lawyers who are trained specifically in each area. The differentiation between these crimes lies in the intention of the wrongdoer and the basis a punishment is delivered on.
Rationale for categorisation and purpose of punishment
To commit a criminal offence a person needs to have intentionally have caused someone harm. This type of offence is considered an offence against all society. By contrast, in civil law the offender has simply neglected his duties whereby the harm he causes affects only the claimant.
For an example if a person commits homicide he or she can be considered as a threat to the entire society. Such a person will be punished in a way that others in society will be discouraged to commit the same crime. These are dealt by criminal lawyers. However, if a person has simply violated his shareholder agreements in Singapore or simply terminated an employee, these problems do not affect the rest of society as a whole. Thus the punishment they will be given will usually be in the form of money damages or they will be forced to follow through with corrective action. Such problems are dealt with by civil lawyers.
In a civil litigation the jury does not necessarily have to come to a unanimous decision. Nevertheless, they must let justice dictate over passion when they make judgements. To name the defendant as guilty the claimant must provide a preponderance of evidence. That means that he has the burden of proving that it is more probable than not that the defendant is guilty.
By contrast, for a person to be convicted in a criminal case the jury must unanimously give their verdict. Another requirement is that the defendant must be proven beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty as charged. While this standard of proof gives the opportunity for the innocent to walk free, it also enables those who are actually guilty to go unpunished due to the lack of evidence.
In a civil case, a guilty defendant will be requested to pay monetary damages and follow through with corrective action, if applicable. Usually a convicted criminal will be punished with incarceration, fines, community service and, in the worst case, the death penalty. In countries where the death penalty does not exist they will be punished with life imprisonment probably with heavy work.
The right to appeal
In a civil lawsuit both the claimant and the defendant are allowed to appeal the court’s decision. In criminal lawsuits only the defendant may appeal.
Criminal law tries to maintain a stable society by minimising acts of violence. On the other hand, civil law attempts to resolve more private issues of lesser severity.