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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Difference between Civil Courts and Criminal Courts

LCCR/EF is concerned only with civil courts, because they  deal with the enforcement of civil rights laws.

Civil Courts Criminal Courts
In a civil suit, one party (the plaintiff) who feels they were harmed brings a complaint against another party (the defendant). Sometimes the government is one of the parties. The government (the plaintiff) brings suit against (prosecutes) a person who they believe has broken the law (the defendant).
Reasonable doubt is not required. A "preponderance of evidence" is enough in most cases. The guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The plaintiff can either ask for monetary relief, or equitable relief
  • Monetary relief is when the plaintiff asks for a cash award to remedy the situation.
  • Equitable relief is when the plaintiff asks for the court to order the other party to do or not to do something.
If the defendant is convicted, he or she may have to serve time in jail or pay a fine.

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