What is Criminal Litigation?

Criminal litigation includes any trial that is tried in criminal court. In comparison to civil litigation, criminal litigation is litigation brought by the state against an individual whereas civil litigation is a private lawsuit between two parties.

Individuals cannot be deprived of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness without due process of the law according to the due process clause of the United States Constitution. Due process is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment and includes a fair and just trial with a jury of peers. Legally, a person cannot be subject to punishment without criminal litigation.

Only a prosecutor is permitted to institute a criminal trial. This is the difference between a criminal trial and a civil lawsuit. Even though some circumstances can give rise to both criminal and civil litigation, a criminal trial will be separate from the civil trial.

Only after going through proper legal channels to ensure that the decided charges are accurate, a prosecutor may then bring criminal charges. The process varies between jurisdictions. In the United States, in order to bring an individual to trial, a prosecutor must illustrate probable cause in order to bring criminal charges against that individual. Then, they must get an indictment, proving that he or she has sufficient evidence that the accused violated a legal duty.

A criminal trial normally takes place after an indictment and arrest. The trial is where the prosecutor will attempt to prove that the defendant has violated a law. In a criminal trial the prosecutor must prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

A defendant has a number of potential defenses available to him or her during a criminal trial. He or she can attempt to introduce reasonable doubt about one or more elements of the crime or they can introduce affirmative defenses, such as self defense.