ISTOCK IMAGE ID 14454292The law can sometimes appear to be a tangle of unfamiliar words and concepts to the person who has little experience with it. Before you can have a successful interaction with the law, it’s necessary to know the basics, whether you’re filing a suit yourself or simply discussing a case that’s happened within your community. Here is clarity one basic point of the law that sometimes causes great initial confusion.

What’s the difference between a wrongful death case and murder?

Well, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil suit filed against someone who can be held liable for death; tortuous injuries, or civil wrongs that resulted in death are grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. These civil cases are filed because of conflicts between people and institutions, like businesses. Successful civil cases very rarely result in the incarceration of the accused; typically civil cases are filed for the purpose of collecting for damages suffered by the deceased’s relatives or estate. Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson’s father sued Jackson’s physician Dr. Conrad Murray for wrongful death after his son died from an overdose of a drug prescribed to treat insomnia.

Though the precise legal definition varies across states, murder is when one human being unlawfully kills another human being. A criminal suit follows, in which the government prosecutes individuals or institutions for breaking the law. Many state’s definition of murder is based on the American Law institute’s Model Penal Code, so there isn’t drastic variance.

Vast Differences in the Necessary Proof

There are also many required procedural differences between the two. In a civil case, citizens may hire private attorneys to represent their interests, and must only prove that it was more likely than not the responsibility of the accused, or that the probability of guilt is at least 51%. The ramifications of a defendant found guilty of a criminal case are usually of greater magnitude to the individual, i.e., jail time, and the prosecutor representing the state must show that the evidence proves the defendant guilty “beyond reasonable doubt.”

Intersections of Criminal and Civil Cases

The main technical difference is in the division of each between civil and criminal law offenses, which are separate in America; thus, sometimes different strains of one issue may have require multiple court cases. For example, in an incident of domestic violence, the victim could sue the alleged perpetrator in a criminal lawsuit for committing the crime, and in a civil lawsuit to collect compensatory damages suffered as a result of that same crime.


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