Jeff Herman, a nationally recognized civil litigation attorney specializing in civil cases for sexual assault charges, wrote a piece for Medium.com trying to explain the Benefits and Downfalls Of A Civil Trial compared to a criminal trial.
Jeff stresses the importance and differences in both to help people understand why they are separate and why accuser often bring charges in both. In his interview with IdeaMensch, he also shared some insights on the differences between a criminal and civil trials
In a criminal case the victim isn’t pursuing justice directly against the accused: Criminal court is the state bringing charges against the defendant. This means that the victim has little or no power in the goals and tactics used by prosecutors in court. If a state prosecutor want to make a deal or even drop the charges, the victim often has no say in the issue.
According to Jeff Herman, while a criminal case can result in prison time, probation and other punishments against the abuser, the victim receives little to no personal compensation. Financial restitution is limited in a criminal court, leaving the victim to keep trying to pick up the pieces of their life after the trial. It is also difficult to prove sexual assault charges to a degree that matches the criminal code requirements. Criminal court must be certain beyond any shadow of a doubt that the accused did in fact commit the crimes they are accused of. View More Information Here.
In civil court most of that is reversed. A plaintiff in a civil case has much more leeway to bring charges and be involved in their own case than one in a criminal case. This helps the victim feel like they are the ones pursuing justice, not the state.
A civil court cannot send a defendant to prison, which a criminal court can. But a civil court has broad powers to ensure that the victim is compensated not only for the practical things like medical costs and lost wages, but also more esoteric concepts like suffering and mental anguish. By getting the funds needed to get their lives back in order the victim can be free to move on from the incident more freely and quickly than the results of criminal court.