The concept of punishment makes a major distinction between criminal law and civil law. While in civil law there is no prosecution per se; rather a reimbursement to the plaintiff by the losing defendant, in criminal law a guilty defendant is punished by imprisonment, fines, or the death penalty. In criminal law, maximum sentences on felonies could go to up to a jail term of one year and for misdemeanors a maximum sentence of less than one year. A civil case conducted under tort law can lead to punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct is proved to have intentions for malicious action (cause harm), negligence, willful disregard to other people’s rights.
Compensation for the Plaintiff under Criminal Law
These damages are usually significant in torts that involve such cases as privacy invasion, which may involve a dignitary; and civil rights in cases where the injury or harm done when translated to monetary form is minimal or negligible. Punitive damages are usually intended to teach the public a lesson through the defendant so that the same act may not be repeated. However, these damages are never awarded under contract law where there is a previous contract or agreement involved beforehand.
Tort claims can be paid through insurance that is purchased specifically to pay damages and also to cover the attorney’s fees. This insurance is similar to the standard insurance purchased for business, homeowners and vehicle. However, the defendant may not be able to purchase the same to make payments for his/her offense under Criminal Law.
If the defendant is ordered to pay for damages and he/she does not have assets or insurance or has hidden the assets carefully, the plaintiff will receive nothing in damages. Therefore, large claims awarded to plaintiffs for damages are often a waste of time.
The outcome of a case is considered effective to an extend where punishment may not necessarily transform a criminal found guilty under either criminal law or civil law or stop them from committing the same act again. As rational as human-beings are thought to be, criminals are thought to be irrational and it is not considered that they will be caught a second or third time; hence, continuous offense without consideration of possible punishment. However, denial of criminals’ movement rights by enclosing them in prison for a certain period of time may be seen as a much more effective punishment. Therefore, criminal proceeding under criminal law is seen to have more serious impact than under civil law. People tend to choose the loss of freedom rather than the payment of heavy fines that may not necessarily be available to the defendants.