Most people don’t understand the difference between a civil law suit and a criminal case. Generally, when you break the law or commit some kind of crime, you are sure to face a criminal charge. You will have to hire c criminal attorney to defend your rights, or the court will appoint a lawyer for you. The U.S. Constitution says that you have a right to an attorney in a criminal case.

In a criminal case, you are always innocent until proven guilty. You, as the Defendant, do not have to prove anything. The State or U.S. has to prove that you are guilty, and if they don’t meet the correct burden, then you are considered innocent.

The Civil Litigation

A Civil Trial is different. Many of the parts of the U.S. Constitution that apply to a criminal case, do not apply to a civil trial. For instance, you do not have the right to an attorney in a civil trial. Of course it is best to hire an attorney to defend your case in a civil trial, but the government does not have to provide one for you.

Back in the late 90s, many people were confused as to how O.J. Simpson could be innocent in the criminal trial, and still lose the civil trial.

The Burden of Proof

In a murder case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant is guilty. However, the burden of proof in a civil trial is never that high. In O.J.’s case, the plaintiff only had to prove that it was more likely than not that O.J. was “at fault.”

Certain crimes automatically have both a criminal trial and a civil trial. Driving while intoxicated is one such crime. In Harris County, if you get arrested for drunk driving, you will face a criminal case. But, the State will also attempt to take away your license in a civil trial called an administrative license hearing. There is also a civil trial attached to a DWI where you may be able to apply for an Occupational Driver’s License.

You can learn more about the DWI Court Process (criminal and civil trial) at