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INTRODUCTION

ALTHOUGH NO ONE EXCEPT A CRIMINAL expects to be charged with a crime, and few of us ever contemplate the possibility of a lawsuit, it seems that the more we know about how our legal system works, the more likely we are to respect the rights of others while demanding that our own rights are respected. Hence this section on how the legal system works.
Subsequent sections will explain your legal rights in a nation dedicated to the rule of law;
this section will give you an overview of how our legal system can give those rights meaning.

  1. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
  2. DISCOVERY
  3. JURIES
  4. POST-TRIAL PROCEDURES
  5. PRE-TRIAL PROCEDURES
  6. SETTLING YOUR DISPUTE
  7. SMALL CLAIMS COURT
  8. STATE OR FEDERAL COURT
  9. TRIALS
  10. VERDICTS
  11. WHERE TO GET MORE INFORMATION

Q. Why do we have an "adversarial" legal system?
A.
American courtroom procedures are based on historical precedent, modified by the needs and experience of lawyers and judges. When two parties cannot agree on their respective rights and obligations, or even on what gave rise to the dispute, the system provides each side with an equal opportunity to present its case (and to point out the weaknesses in its opponent's case) to a neutral judge or jury. Each side is championed by a lawyer following the same statutes, case law, and rules of procedure. The system is designed to permit the truth to emerge whether the case is criminal or civil in nature.

Q. How does a civil suit differ from a criminal prosecution?
A.
A criminal prosecution is brought by the government to punish an individual for committing a
crime against society and to deter others from committing similar crimes. As appropriate, it may
create an opportunity for state-supervised rehabilitation or separation of the offender from the
aggrieved community. Although a criminal defendant may have directly injured only one victim, it is thought that any violation of the criminal laws harms society as well. Accordingly, the victim is not permitted to prosecute the criminal case against the defendant who harmed him or her--that is the government's job in its role as the society's representative. The crime victim, of course, can be the principal witness against the criminal defendant, but it is the government alone that has the authority to file an "information" or seek a grand jury "indictment" charging someone with a crime.
On the other hand, a crime victim may file a civil lawsuit against a wrongdoer. If the victim
sues, he or she is called the plaintiff; the perpetrator of the crime is called the defendant, just as in the criminal case. The civil case provides a legal forum for persons seeking compensation for their injuries or vindication of their rights. Courts may provide redress to plaintiffs who can
demonstrate that a defendant has injured them while committing some legal wrong against them.
Unlike a criminal case, the defendant in a civil case who is found liable for harming the plaintiff
cannot be sentenced to prison but, instead, will be compelled to pay compensation or ordered to take or desist from some action.

Q. Are there different standards for determining liability in a civil suit and guilt in a criminal case?
A.
Yes. Because the Bill of Rights treats a criminal conviction (and the possibility of a death
sentence or a prison term) as a more serious consequence than a finding of civil liability, it is more difficult to convict someone of a crime than it is to obtain a civil judgment against him or her.
In most instances, the test for whether a trial court properly found that a plaintiff met his or
her "burden of proof" in a civil suit is measured by whether a reasonable person could have
concluded that it was "more likely than not" that the defendant was liable for, i.e., legally
responsible for, the plaintiff's injury or loss. This "preponderance of the evidence" standard means that if the evidence favors the plaintiff by even the slightest bit, he or she is entitled to a verdict. In a criminal case, however, the standard is much higher: the prosecution must demonstrate the defendant's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." Thus, even if it is more likely than not that a criminal defendant is guilty of the crime charged, the proper verdict is "not guilty" if there remains a reasonable doubt about his or her guilt.
As will be discussed in more detail beginning in the section on criminal justice,
the United States Constitution guarantees criminal defendants many other rights, including
the right to a jury trial when there is the possibility of a conviction resulting in a prison term of six months or more, and the right to have an attorney appointed if the defendant cannot afford to hire one.

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TITLE: Legal Services at CitiMall.com Online Shopping Mall

Legal Law Category: Law , Legal, Attorney, Advice, Firm, Search, Attorneys, Lawyers, Power of Attorney, Durable, Forms

Shopping Mall: Legal Services get attorney advice, search, law firm, legal law advice Forms, law, power of attorney, Legal service, Free legal Forms, legal advice, legal, aid, legal document, prepaid legal, help, information

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