Jimmy robbed the bank. Because he committed a crime that endangered others, Jimmy will be tried under criminal law.
Brenda is filing a lawsuit against her neighbor. Because a lawsuit is a private matter, it will be dealt with under civil law.
Jimmy Jim you are being charged with robbery.
The first step in a criminal case is called an arraignment, where the charges are stated for the bad guy.
Then Jimmy will have another arraignment, this time in a superior court. Jimmy will then have preliminary trial where Jimmy will try to negotiate his punishment. Finally, Jimmy will have a trial by jury. His peers will determine whether he is guilty or not, then the judge will determine how much money is fined or how long he will go to jail.
The next step for Jimmy is to have a prelimnary hearing where a prosecutor will show the judge the evidence that Jimmy robbed the bank
Brenda will go through a different process! First she will file a complaint, in her case lawsuit. Then she will have to fill out paperwork and exchange written disclosure statements with her neighbor. Thirdly, Brenda and her neighbor and their lawyers will gather evidence and learn details about the case. Next, they will go through a motion, meaning that a request for a lawsuit has been filed. Fifthly, she will have a trial where evidence is presented to a judge or a jury. And finally, a verdict will be determined and if Brenda isn't happy she can do it all over again by filing an appeal.
Jail time is not the only way a criminal can be punished. Sometimes they will have to pay a fine, do community service, or have to live within a certain area. Any combination of these can be used to punish a criminal.
Over 40 million civil lawsuits are filed within the United States each year. That's a lot of Brendas!