Civil law covers conflicts between two parties, including individuals and businesses. It is a set of rules that defines and protects the private rights of citizens, provides legal remedies that may interfere with a dispute, and covers areas of law such as contracts, torts, property and family law. Civil law is derived from the laws of ancient Rome, which used doctrines to develop a code that determined how legal issues would be decided. Examples of cases covered by civil law include negligence, fraud, breach of contract, medical negligence, and the dissolution of marriage.
If someone damages someone else's property, the victim can sue the perpetrator in civil court for the cost of the damages. Family law is the branch of civil law that deals with marriage, divorce, annulment, child custody, adoption, birth, child support and any other issue affecting families. This branch of civil law is unique in that there is not necessarily a person who has committed a civil crime. This is particularly true in states that have no-fault divorces.
Family court deals with dividing assets and finances after a divorce, establishing child custody, child support, and spousal support, among other things. Some newer areas that fall within the scope of family law are same-sex marriage, artificial conception, surrogate motherhood, in vitro fertilization and pallimony. The difference between civil law and criminal law is that failure to comply with civil law can result in a lawsuit or some type of monetary liability, while failure to comply with criminal law can result in a criminal charge and a criminal conviction. Civil law deals with cases between individuals, companies, or other entities in which one party may be required to pay compensation for damage caused to the other party.
Criminal law deals with cases in which crimes have been committed and the person who commits a crime will be punished. A single criminal or civil action can be initiated as in the 1995 criminal case of The People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson and the civil case Goldman v. Simpson.
In this famous case, Simpson was tried on criminal charges for the murder of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. Substantial evidence was found that linked Simpson to the crime scene such as his blood at the crime scene, the blood of the victims in Simpson's vehicle, bloody fingerprints that matched a pair of Simpson's shoes and a glove found on Simpson's vehicle that matched a glove found at the crime scene. Simpson was acquitted of criminal charges for the murder but was found guilty of manslaughter due to jury unanimity being required to convict on criminal charges but not always required for civil decisions. Additional evidence was provided during the civil wrongful death trial and Simpson was ordered to pay compensation to the families of the victims.
Civil law enforces contractual agreements such as those between two parties to a custody agreement as well as laws on liability for property damage and other incidents involving damage. Civil crimes usually involve payment of monetary damages to victims while criminal law refers to laws that punish people who commit crimes by receiving complaints against people who have committed a crime and providing a trial and if found guilty punishment for criminal offenses often involving punitive consequences such as probation or imprisonment. The definition of civil law refers to laws that describe expectations of interactions between people and is designed to protect individual interests by regulating these interactions while criminal law enforces these laws by providing a trial and if found guilty punishment for criminal offenses often involving punitive consequences such as probation or imprisonment.