There is a clear distinction between a criminal and civil action, which involve private lawsuits between two or more persons or entities. A criminal action is initiated by the state or federal government for an act that has been identified as a crime. Most crimes consist of an act, a mental state and the intent to do social harm. Crimes are divided into two categories, misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors involve less serious offenses usually punishable by a fine, including traffic violations or petty theft. Felonies are more serious offenses that are punishable by imprisonment of one or more years and include such crimes as murder, grand theft, assault with a deadly weapon, etc.
The burden of proof is much greater in a criminal case than in a civil case. Plaintiffs in a civil action are only required to show by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant is more than half responsible for the damages. In contrast, a prosecutor in a criminal case need only prove to the judge or jury "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant is guilty of the crime. There is a presumption that you are innocent until you are proven guilty.
It is essential that you contact an experienced Southern California criminal lawyer if there is any prospect of you being charged with a crime. Experience shows that the sooner a lawyer is brought into a criminal case or investigation, the better the outcome will be for the client. It is unwise to have a dialogue regarding your rights and legal status with police officers and prosecutors who have no obligation to act in a suspect’s best interests. Retain a Southern California criminal attorney immediately to protect your legal rights.