Oct 13, 2021 in Law

The Influence of Civil and Criminal Laws

The U.S justice legal system is inherently composed of two different types of cases, criminal and civil ones. Crimes are usually considered to be the offenses against the state, which are prosecuted by the latter (Ashworth & Horder, 2013). On the other hand, a civil case is regarded as a dispute between individuals concerning the breach of legal duties and responsibilities owed to each other. As a result, the trial procedure tends to be distinctive for two types. Previous landmark cases have set precedence that continue to define the difference between civil and criminal case and exert influence the U.S justice system.

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Differences between the Civil Law and Criminal Law

In criminal law, the offenses are committed either against the state or the whole society. Therefore, this implies that even the murder of one person is considered a delinquency against the general community (Mason & Stephenson, 2015). The crime under criminal law is prosecuted by the state, where a case is filed to the court by the prosecutor who represents the state. However, a civil case only involves two individuals, and either of the wronged people issues the lawsuit to seek redress (Clark, 2012).

In addition, criminal and civil cases are usually different with regard to the punishment. In the former, the jail time is a potential mode of correction while in the latter, penalty is usually the payment of damages through monetary compensation, ordering to perform some actions or vice versa, prohibition to resort to some deeds (Ashworth & Horder, 2013). It is important to note that criminal offenses can result in both incarceration and reimbursement.

In both criminal and civil cases, the standard of proof varies significantly. In criminal case proceedings, a prosecutor is normally tasked with proving to the jury the existence of crime. The burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt rests with the prosecutor (Clark, 2012). On the other hand, civil cases require a lower degree of proof such as the preponderance of the evidence, which implies that it is not necessary that something occurred in a specific manner. The difference in the standards exists largely because liability in civil cases is considered less blameworthy and punishment is less severe (In Clark, 2012).

In criminal cases, a trial with the jury is always allowed while civil cases do not permit jurors in specific instances. Instead, most civil cases are usually decided by the judge. It is also important to emphasize that in the criminal case proceeding, a defendant is normally entitled to an attorney, especially if he/she cannot afford one. The state is mandated to offer the defense lawyer for the accused (Mason & Stephenson, 2015). However, in civil cases, the latter is not accorded the advocate and must pay for one or defend him/herself. The kind of protection provided for the defendant in criminal law is usually considerate since it secures an individual against unwarranted searches and seizure as guaranteed by the fourth amendment while such protection tends to be non-existent to the accused in civil cases (Clark, 2012).

Civil Law Case and Criminal Law Case

Gideon v. Wainright

In this case, Gideon was convicted of a felony in the Florida court. He entered a poolroom with the intention of committing a crime. Furthermore, this offense is classified as a felony under the Florida law (Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963). He appeared at the trial, and notified the court that he was poor and thus requested for a state attorney. The court refused to accord Gideon the defense lawyer by arguing that in the State of Florida a poor defendant has only the right to an advocate in the instance of a capital offense (Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963). However, the case was overruled and the accused one was legally entitled to the attorney for the hearing to be fair. Failure to provide a lawyer was a violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S Constitution.

Boyd v. the United States

The 1874 Statute allowed the government to demand from an individual to produce papers and books when requested. Nevertheless, the statute did not permit search and seizure per se, but instead, the government was empowered to file a motion for the trial that described the document and what the prosecution thought was contained in such a document. The person was not mandated to provide the latter, but if they did not, the allegation included in the issued motion would be considered as a confession. In the reviewed case, customs officers took to their custody 35 cases of glass that had been imported by Boyd and Sons (the defendant) (Boyd v. United States, 1886). The officials believed that Boyd was trying to avoid payment of custom duties for the imported cargo. The authorities applied the 1874 Statute to the demand that Boyd furnished the prosecution with the invoices. Though Boyd presented the accounts, he objected to their use in the case citing a violation of the 4th Amendment (Boyd v. United States, 1886).

Reasoning Behind these Cases and Laws

In the Gideon v. Wainright case, the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the ruling was unconstitutional presenting the reasoning that Gideon was denied an attorney during the trial (Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963). It ruled that the 6th Amendment of the Constitution offers the accused the right to an advocate in any criminal proceeding and that the state is instructed to offer one if the respondent cannot afford such a service. In addition, the ruling was based on the Amendment that further indicates that in all criminal proceedings, the defendant has the right to a lawyer to provide legal counsel (Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963). For any crime that is punishable by imprisonment of more than a year, the defense must be accorded legal support.

In the Boyd V. U.S., the court held that 1874 law requiring implied that the invoices and the paper or the allegation should be taken as unconstitutional since they were unacceptable according to the 4th and 5th amendments of the U.S Constitution (Boyd v. United States, 1886). The decision is based on the issue that though the production of the private books to be used in the proceeding was within the spirit and meaning of the amendment, it did not require the actual entry to the premises in order to search the papers since that constituted the unreasonable search and seizure as provided by the 4th Amendment (Boyd v. United States, 1886). In addition, it noted that search and seizure of the private papers, which are to be applied as evidence for the essence of convicting them for crime, recovery, obtaining a penalty or even forfeiting their property, was different from the search and seizure related to the stolen goods.

The Influence of the Cases on American Justice System

The Boyd V. U S case has significantly influenced the U.S American justice system since it has been used precedent in some case. The proposition that the 5th Amendment restricts compelled production of the documents over an argument that it is likely to incriminate the defendant largely stemming from Boyd V. United States (Boyd v. United States, 1886). In the Hale v. Henkel, Boyd V. United States case was used to highlight that seizure either under warrant or otherwise the one of evidential material violated the 4th Amendment, and that the 5th Amendment rendered such acquired evidence as being inadmissible in the court (Hale v. Henkel, 1906). The case has affected the adjudication of court cases relating to the seizure, especially when an individual is not convicted of the crime (Boyd v. United States, 1886). Consequently, the U.S legal system encountered little difficulties in viewing the 5th Amendment’s applicability with regard to compulsion search as the seizure.

The Gideon v. Wainright case had the far-reaching influence on the U.S legislation. Approximately 2000 individuals were freed in Florida as result of the Gideon case settlement. Although the decision did not automatically release Gideon, it offered him an opportunity for a new trial with the presence of legal counsel from the government (Bright & Sanneh, 2012). It is after the court deliberations in the second hearing that he was acquitted. Thus, the case opened a new era that leads to improvement in the law that the U.S justice system will greatly benefit from.

The Impact of the Case in Shaping U.S Justice System

Since the case of Gideon v. United State, many changes have been affected with respect to the prosecution and legal representation, especially for the poor defendant. The decision expanded the need for providing the public defender with legal support. The State of Florida required that legal counsel should be offered to all state circuit courts. Since then, more than 70 states followed the strategy, with Washington DC establishing a training course for its public defenders before they were allowed in the court (Bright & Sanneh, 2012). In addition, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association together with the American Bar Association imposed the minimum demands, experience and caseload threshold requirement for all social defenders (Bright & Sanneh, 2012).

The Boyd V. United States case has significantly impacted the development of the U.S judicial system. Since the time of the case, the societal and judicial perception of the property and privacy has shifted dramatically (Cummings, 2015). Furthermore, the reaction of the community to the issue of crime in the U.S has been paralleled by changing the judicial perception on the restriction of the government power to apprehend and prosecute the criminal. Therefore, such a trend has been highlighted in gradual elimination of the protection that Boyd accorded to the people’s liberty. However, the Boyd case has led to an increase in the consideration on the provision of the 4th and 5th Amendments in relation to illegal search and seizure (Cummings, 2015).

In conclusion, it is evident that both criminal and civil law bears some important discrepancies, which present an aspect that influences the judicial outcome. Nevertheless, different cases over the year have transformed the system, especially in connection with the right to counsel for the defendant and protection against illegal search and seizure. Thus, the U.S. legal system will continue to be shaped by such landmark cases, which leave a permanent legacy in the system.

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