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Evidence Required for Civil and Criminal Court Cases

Damian M. was charged with the murder of his wife, Sharon. After a lengthy trial in criminal court, he was acquitted by a jury of his wife's murder. Sharon's parents were convinced that Damian killed their daughter, and so they then brought a civil case against Damian for the wrongful death of their daughter. The jury in the civil case determined that Damian was responsible for the death of Sharon.

As a training exercise, you are asked to provide an analysis of how both a civil and criminal case could be brought against Damian for the death of his wife. Discuss possible explanations for the different outcomes in the cases - that one jury found that he had killed Sharon and the other did not. In your discussion, you need to address the following issues:

Explain the differences between civil and criminal law, such as standard of proof, who brings the case, and the basic possible punishments/repercussions for the defendant who loses the case.

How might the different standards of proof contribute to different outcomes (finding that Damian did or didn't kill Sharon) in the cases?

Solution Preview

In civil cases the only amount of proof necessary is a preponderance of evidence as opposed to in criminal cases that require evidence beyond reasonable doubt. In criminal cases prosecutors and the state or federal government can bring charges while in civil cases it's up to the plaintiffs to bring forth a case. The repercussions in civil cases are primarily monetary while a myriad of ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses a hypothetical murder trial that resulted in a not guilty verdict at the criminal murder trial, but held the defendant liable in the civil trial. Explanations are provided for why the civil verdict was contrary to the criminal verdict and the type of evidence that is necessary for both courts to reach a conclusion.