An Attorney On Your Side In Cocke, Jefferson, and Sevier Counties
Candice K. Mendez knows that the legal system can be both frightening and frustrating. A lot of
times you or a loved one doesn't even know what they are being charged with or why. On this
page, you will be able to read about the basic differences between the criminal and civil courts
as well as the distinctions between misdemeanors and felony charges.
In the United States, our legal system is separated into two parts: the civil law and the criminal law. Different courts oversee these two areas of the law.
Trying to distinguish between these two areas can be very confusing to the average person. The best way to remember the difference is to know that usually, the term "civil" equates money or financial damages. You could sue someone for the value of an item that they have broken or destroyed. However, if that person committed an intentional act of vandalism, they may be charged with a crime. "Criminal" cases stem from an act committed that is a violation of the criminal law - where an arrest can be made.
Sometimes, there are both civil and criminal remedies available. For example, in a situation of domestic violence, there might be both civil and criminal issues to be resolved from the same case. A victim may wish to take action against a perpetrator for both civil (money) damages as well as have that person arrested under criminal charges. The major differences have to do with who takes the case to court and the reason for the case.
In a civil action, you are asking the court to award you money or some other type of specific relief resulting from a problem. You are not asking the court to send a person to jail for committing a crime.
In a criminal case, you are asking - through the state's attorney - for the court to put someone in jail or otherwise place a restriction on their freedoms as the result of a crime. Harassment, assault, murder, theft, etc. are all examples of crimes that go through the criminal justice system.
The State of Tennessee, like most other states classifies crimes in one of two categories: misdemeanors or felonies. No matter which type of crime that you are charged with - the state must prove that an arrested person committed an unlawful act with some sort of criminal intent.
The two types of crimes are primarily distinguishable based on the penalty (or amount of time one would have to serve in jail if convicted) given. In Tennessee, the penalties for felonies can range from one year to sixty years. Penalties for misdemeanors can range from one day to 364 days. Please note that other conduct or actions punishable only by fine (certain traffic or administrative laws) are not considered a crime but rather as an infraction or violation.
If you or a loved one has been charged with any crime - felony or misdemeanor - you need to contact the law office of Candice K. Mendez as soon as possible.
The initial consultation will be able to provide you with all the information that you'll need to decide how to handle any criminal or civil matter.