Social Studies - 2018-19

CE.9c - Civil and Criminal Cases

The student will apply social science skills to understand the judicial systems established by the Constitution of Virginia and the Constitution of the United States by

c) comparing and contrasting civil and criminal cases;


Adopted: 2015



Courts resolve two kinds of conflicts: civil and criminal.


Criminal case

 In a criminal case, a court determines whether a person accused of breaking the law is guilty or not guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony.

Procedure for criminal cases

 A person accused of a crime may be arrested if the police have probable cause.

 The case proceeds to an arraignment where probable cause is reviewed, an attorney may be appointed for the defendant, and a plea is entered.

 The accused may be committed to jail or released on bail.

 In a felony case, a preliminary hearing is conducted to see if there is probable cause. If probable cause is determined, a grand jury will determine if there is enough evidence to indict the accused.

 In a misdemeanor case, there is no preliminary hearing or grand jury. A trial date is set instead.

 A court date is set, and a trial is conducted.

 A guilty verdict may be appealed.

Civil case

 In a civil case, a court settles a disagreement between two parties to recover damages or receive compensation.

Procedure for civil cases

 The plaintiff files a complaint to recover damages or receive compensation.

 Cases can be heard by a judge or a jury.

 A ruling is issued.

 Cases can be appealed.


Updated: May 16, 2018