Civil and Criminal Law

What are some of the differences between criminal law and civil law?

Criminal law and civil law are two extensive and different branches of law with separate sets of punishments and laws. According to Geldart (1984), the difference between criminal law and civil law turns on the distinction between two varied objects which law aims to pursue – punishment or redress. The object of criminal law is to bring the wrongdoer to justice through punishment, to give the offender an inducement not to commit similar crimes, to transform him if possible, and possibly to satisfy the general public understanding that wrongdoing must meet with retribution. Civil law, on the other hand, as its object, has the redress of wrongdoers by compelling restitution or compensation. Here the wrongdoer is not subjected to punishment; he only suffers the harm as is indispensable to make good the wrongs committed. The person who has gone through this at least avoids a loss, or gets a definite law benefit.

What is the purpose of having criminal laws, as opposed to just having a civil legal system?

Siegel and Senna (2008), indicate that criminal laws are there more as instrument of social justice, rather than personal revenge. This means that criminal laws exist to punish the offender, rather than answer the claim the injured party. Since criminal law seeks punishment for the crime, it prevents the offender from repeating it, and as such brings satisfaction to the victim.

Why is the enforcement of laws essential to society’s ability to function with minimum conflict?

In the words of Levinson (2002), both at a constitutional level and at local or civilian level, law enforcement is necessary to prevent the government from unrestrained expansion, and to help protect people’s rights. Nonetheless, given that the general public respects natural rights, less and less enforcement laws are necessary. The ability of the society to operate with minimal conflict has more to do with the belief of individuals and their respect of private property, and less to do with laws. As long as the government is in control and also kept in check, people can live with minimal conflict.

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