In any given country the law is divided into various branches for the purposes of making it more effective. The main branches of law that there are include criminal law and civil law. Criminal law basically deals with any act or omission that is classified as a crime. The main aim of criminal law is punishment. Punishment imposed by criminal varies depending on the subject matter in dispute and the jurisdiction of the court that is adjudicating the matter. Criminal law clearly spells out a specific punishment for a particular crime depending on the gravity or severity of the offence (Works. J. D. 2000).
Some of the punishments that are common in criminal law include capital punishments for capital crimes like murder, treason, robbery with violence among other crimes of similar gravity. Corporal punishments are also common in criminal law although many countries have over the years appeared reluctant to implement the two kinds of punishment (capital and corporal punishments. Fines, probation and parole are other forms of punishment under the criminal law. The punishments that are imposed by criminal have five main objectives which include:
i) Deterrence- This is a punishment that is intended to prevent the offender from engaging him or herself in a criminal activity yet again. This punishment is also intended to instill fear in others who may attempt top engage in criminal activities in future. ii) Retribution- When a criminal commits a crime it is a fact that he makes the rest of the society is some kind of way. Similarly it is only fair that once apprehended such a person is made to pay for their actions and also suffer in a similar manner if not more just in the same way he made somebody suffer when he committed the crime.
iii) Incapacitation- This is yet another intention of criminal punishment where the intention is to make it impossible for a criminal to repeat a crime. iv) Rehabilitation- This is intended to have the individual criminal reform and turn away form his criminal activities v) Restitution- This is normally an attempt to amend all the wrongs done. For instance if an individual had stolen he is made to return what he had stolen to the owner. Civil law on the other hand is the law that governs relationships that exist between individuals and are legal in nature.
Any legal dispute that does not fall under criminal law may be classified under the civil law. Being two different branches of law it therefore means that one can be tried for one crime but under the two branches of the law. Having given a background on these two major branches of law this paper will now embark on looking at various issues that characterize these two branches of law including jurisdiction, subject matter, pleadings, burden of proof and possible available remedies.
This will be discussed in light of the case in question where O. J Simpson went through a criminal state trial for murdering his wife. He was later taken through civil proceedings for wrongfully causing the death of his wife and matter related custody of children. When he is being tried under civil law Simpson’s case is moved from state court to federal district court (Works. J. D. 2000). Jurisdiction refers to the authority or power that a particular court has to hear or entertain particular legal matters.
Looking at Simpson’s case which was moved from state court to federal district perhaps it would of importance to find out the differences in jurisdiction between these courts and thus find out why the matter was transferred from one court to the other. For a state court to entertain a particular matter the subject matter must be in one that is within the United States (Works. J. D. 2000). A subject matter is the actual matter that is in dispute. Any dispute in regard to a subject matter that is outside the US is referred to a federal court.
One important thing to note about state courts is that they only entertain matters that are non criminal in nature. On the other hand federal courts entertain matters that are criminal in nature and even where the subject matter is dispute is one that is beyond the territories of the United States. It is therefore clear why Simpson’s matter had to be transferred from the state court to the federal court. The main reason is that the state court does not have jurisdiction to hear this matter since it is criminal in nature.
Thus as far as jurisdiction is concerned the main difference is that stet courts have no power to entertain matters that are of a criminal nature. Pleadings are normally found in civil matters and they are written statements that are filed in court, usually by both parties to the suit. For instance when a plaintiff files a particular complaint in court that is deemed to be a pleading and when the defendant files his defense that is also consider a pleading (Works. J. D. 2000).
There is an extensive law that covers pleadings and stipulate how pleading ought to be entered, within what time and in what form and manner. It is however important to note that pleading are not used in criminal cases. The burden of proof and the extent or what is known as standard of proof is another major element of both civil and criminal law. Burden of proof basically refers to the person who has the responsibility of proofing that the other party is guilty of the crime accused.
In civil law it is the plaintiff who bears the burden of proof and he must proof that the defendant actually caused him harm as he (the plaintiff) alleges. The standard of proof in civil cases is on a balance of probabilities. In criminal cases the burden of proof lays on the prosecution who must proof that the accused person is guilty of the offence he has been charged with. The standard of proof in criminal cases is beyond reasonable doubt meaning that the prosecution must proof to the court beyond any doubts that the accused person is actually guilty (Works. J. D. 2000).
In this particular case of Simpson he cannot plead double jeopardy if when tried in three different courts. This is so because double jeopardy is when one is tried for the same on the same set of facts. In this case Simpson is being tried on different sets of facts in each court. For instance in the federal court he will be charges for murder of his wife while in the civil court he will be charged for causing the wrongful death of hiss wife and also matters regarding custody of children.
In most countries including US Superior Courts are normally appellate courts. Therefore W. R. Graces’s lawyers can argue that a particular matter is being heard for the first time and thus cannot be entertained by a superior court and thus successfully get the Woburn lawsuit moved from Massachusetts Superior Court to the federal district court. References: Works, John. D. (2000). Courts and their Jurisdiction. California: R. Clarke Co.