Differences Between Civil and Criminal Law

Civil Law

Civil law deals with actions that cause harm to a person or another private party, like a corporation. Official papers like a state’s enterprise and occupations code, the safety and health code, and other governmental regulations specify the guidelines for these conflicts (Erstad, 2022). The complainant seeks to resolve a disagreement with the defendant. Social media posts and creating content that can damage someone else’s reputation and good name are among the biggest problems nowadays. Therefore, individuals who suffer emotional distress or unjustified invasion of privacy brought on by unlawful communications may be compensated when the case is settled.

Criminal Law

Criminal law is a set of regulations that deals with the punishment of offenders. The statutes are set to solve the transgressions made by an individual against local, state, or federal authorities (Erstad, 2022). In essence, it entails someone abusing a public servant online or through other communication methods. Generally, a crime against the state entails violating a rule of law set down by the officials. In these situations, the state is in charge of initiating and prosecuting the case, and they will contend that the offense somehow caused the state harm or injury. As a result, they will seek to penalize the offender with a fine or imprisonment.

Differences Between Civil and Criminal Law

Criminal and civil law differs in initiation processes, which include who files the lawsuit, how decisions are made, fine or punishment, who has the burden of proof, and what remedies are available to the defendant. Criminal cases can only be started by the government while civil ones can be initiated by any party (Erstad, 2022). For instance, only the government has the legal authority to file a lawsuit against CNN for spreading misinformation that appears to assist terrorism. In contrast, a private party like Walmart may file a lawsuit against FOX News for airing a defamatory article.

The form of punishment that is imposed for violating the law is another significant contrast between civil and criminal law. For instance, if the person accused of the crime loses the case in court, they will probably be sentenced to jail time or some form of probation. In contrast, for civil cases, the losing side does not go to jail after the matter is resolved. The verdict frequently entails a monetary fine or a directive to alter behavior. Generally, civil lawsuits are frequently resolved outside of court. The burden of proof in civil cases rests with the plaintiff. Evidence that goes beyond the weight of probabilities is required (Erstad, 2022). However, in criminal trials, this always falls on the state or government.

Example of Civil Laws

Invasion of privacy legislation is an example of civil law, like in the case of WhatsApp charging the Israeli company, NSO Group with employing malicious software to assist governments in hacking the phones of journalists and human rights activists. In essence, the goal was to listen in on their conversations, steal photos and other forms of data, turn on microphones, and locate the targets. According to Yas et al. (2022), it is currently normal to intentionally display more personal information. At the same time, it has become more common to intrude into other people’s personal lives. Essentially, this raises concerns about identity theft and other social risks brought on by people’s increased online presence.

Example of Criminal Law

Antistalking or statutes prohibiting issuing threats to other people is an instance of criminal law. An example of a violation of the law governing communications would be if someone threatened the president of the US and sent their message through the mail. The First Amendment to the US Constitution contains a conditional guarantee of free expression (“Unlawful communications,” n.d.). In other words, there is a limitation to freedom of speech while interacting with others. Threats and other illegal communications are prohibited by many state and federal criminal laws. Antistalking legislations, which deal with unwelcome messages, have been passed by many states to protect individuals.


Erstad, W. (2022). Civil law vs. criminal law: Breaking down the differences. Rasmussen University. Web.

Unlawful communications. (n.d.). Law Library. Web.

Yas, N., Dafri, W., & Rezaei Gashti, Z. (2022). An account of civil liability for violating private life in social media. Education Research International, 2022, 1-11. Web.

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"Differences Between Civil and Criminal Law." LawBirdie, 19 Nov. 2023, lawbirdie.com/differences-between-civil-and-criminal-law/.


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Differences Between Civil and Criminal Law'. 19 November.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Differences Between Civil and Criminal Law." November 19, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/differences-between-civil-and-criminal-law/.

1. LawBirdie. "Differences Between Civil and Criminal Law." November 19, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/differences-between-civil-and-criminal-law/.


LawBirdie. "Differences Between Civil and Criminal Law." November 19, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/differences-between-civil-and-criminal-law/.