America is a litigious nation, meaning that people often would rather go to court to solve their differences than work it out between themselves. In Michigan and elsewhere, if it is a matter of differences of opinion over the condition of a purchased car, the terms for repayment of a loan, accusations of slander or any number of business conflicts or personal injury, small claims or civil court will take care of such matters.
In criminal court it is a little more complicated. If you are facing criminal charges and you know your accuser, find out more about how the system works before retaliating. Having strong Detroit legal advocacy on your side will help you through the court system so that you can successfully fight the charges when facing unjust accusations.
How is criminal court different from civil court?
There are important differences between civil and criminal court systems. A civil case addresses a private dispute between people or organizations. The plaintiff files a suit against another entity, called the defendant, claiming a failure to carry out a legal duty owed to them.
A criminal case, however, addresses the alleged actions of an individual or entity against society as a whole. A criminal accusation can occur in one of three ways:
- Through indictment by a grand jury.
- Through allegations based on information by a prosecuting attorney, or a criminal complaint filed by an individual petitioning the prosecutor to initiate charges.
- Through citation by the police for lesser misdemeanors, traffic violations and minor criminal offenses.
The standard for proving liability or guilt also differs between the two court systems. The plaintiff proves the defendant’s responsibility for financial harm in a civil case by convincing the court by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a much lower standard than what is required in a criminal case, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Both types of cases may take place in state or federal court.
Why can’t I counter-file for assault?
In a criminal case, it is the government, not a person’s accuser, that files charges against them, and a complaint will often result in an arrest warrant. If the accused thinks that they have also been a victim of assault, they may want to seek legal counsel before reporting the alleged crime to law enforcement.
There is also an intersection of the two court systems in assault cases where the state pursues criminal charges against the accused while an individual files a civil suit against another party for the intentional tort of assault. In either scenario, however, it is best to first speak to a criminal defense lawyer about your options.