In matters of law, attorneys
specialize. At its most essential, the practice of law divides into civil law
and criminal law. Broadly, the former relates to matters between private
citizens, while the latter refers to a violation of local, state, or national
law by a private citizen.
About Civil Law
Civil law relates to matters of
disagreement between two citizens. This immense field of law has many
specialties within it. It includes privacy rights, civil rights, negligence,
personal injury, and much more.
For example, if two next-door
neighbors argue over the dividing line of the properties, the property dispute
falls under civil litigation. If an employer fires an employee after learning
about their sexual orientation or political affiliation, that falls under civil
While attorneys typically strive
to settle civil matters outside of court through mediation, some cases do go to
court. The law terms this civil litigation. During this legal process, the
attorney for the injured party must prove harm, and sometimes, negligence.
Doing so results in the court awarding damages.
The driver at fault for an
accident typically falls within the civil realm, too. Some exceptions to this
exist though, such as driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated
(DWI), and reckless driving. These three conditions also fall under criminal
law because each state creates criminal penalties for them to protect the
health and safety of its citizens.
About Criminal Law
Each municipality, state, and
country makes and enforces laws to protect the health, safety, and welfare of
its citizens. These range from outlawing murder to making DUI illegal. Building
code violations also fall within the realm of criminal law, as do the health
codes applied to restaurants.
Federal and state laws grow more
complex. Congress or a state legislature makes some laws, while Congress passes
the right of rulemaking, which carries the same power as laws it makes, to
certain governmental organizations, such as the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
When an individual violates a
criminal statute, the state files charges, rather than the individual. In a
murder, for example, the victim’s family does not file the case against the
accused perpetrator. The criminal prosecutor, typically referred to as the
district attorney in the US, files the charges. A criminal defense attorney or
a public defender represents the defendant.
Similar to civil litigation, the
burden of proof rests with the party bringing the charges. In criminal cases,
the criminal prosecutor must mount a case that proves the guilt of the accused.
In US law, the court mandates that the jury assume the innocence of the accused
perpetrator of any crime until the prosecution can prove their guilt.
If found guilty by a jury of
their peers, the accused typically goes to prison to serve a term commensurate
with the crime. Each law that makes an activity a crime also names its
potential penalties. The judge determines the sentence after the jury finds
If the jury finds the accused
not guilty, the individual goes free. They incur no penalty. The law protects
them from the prosecution trying to mount another case for the same crime
against them through a legal tenet called double jeopardy.
Do You Need a Civil or
Have you been charged by the
state of Nebraska or the city of Omaha for a crime, such as DUI or DWI? Turn to
the most experienced DUI attorney in the area, Cody Miltenberger of
Miltenberger Law Offices. Let Cody’s more than 10 years of criminal trial
experience benefit you. Contact the Miltenberger Law Offices today.