A CIVIL case takes a step back from more severe charges and lengthier prison sentences.

Holding a person liable for their actions can determine whether a civil case makes it to a court or simply ends in a settlement.

What is a civil case?

Civil cases come in many forms from domestic disputes to county violations, lawsuits, and other minor infractions.

Holding someone liable for their actions is the primary focus of a civil case and typically results in a payout from one party to the other.

In these cases, the person can choose to represent themselves or hire a lawyer to do it for them.

The verdict is determined by pleading guilty or not guilty, looking at the evidence, a trial, and possibly an appeal.

The parties can end the civil case at any time by agreeing to a settlement which shortens a potentially lengthy and often expensive process.

What are the 4 types of civil cases?

The four types of civil cases are contract, equitable, landlord or tenant claims, and tort claims, according to the Regional Justice Center.

Tort Claims A tort, or tortious claim is made when an individual has experienced some form of bodily or mental harm. In many cases, a tort claim includes a person or business that committed fraud, personal injury – including sexual assault – defamation, or negligence.

An example of a tort claim would be if a senior citizen was housed at a retirement home and was neglected or given the wrong medications. The individual or their family could file a claim against the retirement home for negligent practice.

Breach of Contract Claims – If an individual has breached their contract with their employer, didn't pay for a service that was provided, or didn't complete a job they were hired for, a claim can be made.

An example of a breach of contract claim would be if an individual was hired at a company but had to sign a contract stating they wouldn't resign from the company for at least two years and left prior to the end of the agreement. Since they had neglected to fulfill their contractual obligation, the company could file a claim against them.

Equitable Claims – An equitable claim is different from other cases in the sense that the individual is not necessarily seeking monetary damages. This case may involve a request for a restraining order or an injunction to stop the destruction of property or improper transfer of land.

An example of an equitable claim would be if a developer wanted to demolish an array of historical buildings and build a shopping center. If the residents in the community strongly oppose the builder demolishing the historic buildings, they can then file a case for an injunction.

Landlord/Tenant Claims – In this civil case, a landlord may be trying to evict a tenant, or oppositionally, the tenant may be trying to get a security deposit back after they move out. Either party can file a claim for this reason.

An example of this claim would be if the landlord evicts an individual for unsubstantiated claims or without notice, the tenant can file a claim disputing their eviction.

How is a civil case different from a criminal case?

Civil cases are claims typically filed by an individual or private parties that can result in a settlement, a criminal case can result in prison time, fines, community service, or other penalties.

A criminal case can involve assault or battery, wrongful death, or homicide with varying degrees of legal action taken.

These cases are typically filed as acts against the state, county, city, or federal government.

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Unlike a civil case that can result in paying a fine or fulfilling a contractual obligation, the stakes in a criminal case are much higher.

It is for this reason that laws apply to presume innocence until proven guilty and the prosecution will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

The defendant also has the right to a lawyer and if they are unable to hire a lawyer themselves, the court will provide one for them.

In these cases, the most serious cases will include robbery, kidnapping, rape, and murder.

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