Criminal litigation refers to a trial in criminal court. Criminal litigation is distinct from civil litigation in most countries. Civil litigation is a private lawsuit between two parties, while criminal litigation is litigation brought by the state against an individual.
Under the due process clause of the United States Constitution, individuals cannot be deprived of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness without due process of the law. A fair and just trial with a jury of peers is part of due process, and is also guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment. Under these rules, a person cannot be subjected to punishment without criminal litigation first taking place.
Only an authorized government official, a prosecutor, is permitted to institute a criminal trial. This makes a criminal trial distinct from a civil lawsuit, in which one party can sue another party for violating a legal duty. While some actions and behaviors can give rise to both criminal and civil litigation, the criminal trial must always be kept separate from the civil trial.
The defendant has a number of potential defenses available to him in a criminal trial. He can attempt to introduce reasonable doubt about one or more elements of the crime, such as proving that he didn’t have the required intent or that he didn’t commit the illegal actions. He can also introduce affirmative defenses, such as self defense.
Given the complexity of most criminal trials it is strongly advised to hire a reputable law firm. Stephen J. Sheehy, III & Associates, P.L.L.C. is prepared to represent you in the many variations of criminal law.