In the United States, legal violations are separated into two distinct categories: civil offenses and criminal offenses. When an individual has committed a criminal offense, he/she has committed a crime that is punishable under the law. Punishment for criminal offenses will vary depending upon the severity of the offense.
Common punishments include extensive fines and incarceration. However, when an individual commits a civil offense, he/she has not committed a crime. Common civil offenses are traffic violations or violations of a contract. Generally, civil violations are punished by minor fines and do not result in incarceration. Nevertheless, an individual who is accused of a civil offense may wish to employ a civil defense, in order to reduce the consequences of his/her actions.
Though the consequences of civil offenses are notably less severe than those associated with criminal offenses, an individual may still suffer from adverse consequences. For example, if an individual has received multiple traffic violations, his/her license may be revoked. Therefore, it may be beneficial for an individual to use an effective civil defense.
In many instances, a civil defense will seek to diminish a defendant’s culpability. For example, if an individual is accused of hitting the back of another individual’s car, he/she may note that the driver operating the other car quickly hit the brakes, without warning, giving him/her no time to effectively respond. There are many lawyers who specialize specifically in civil law and civil defense, who can help an individual successfully employ a suitable defense.