Criminal law includes major criminal offenses such as murder
In general, criminal law includes major criminal offenses such as murder, stealing, assault and rape cases whereas civil law includes activities related to the process of lending and borrowing money, entering into contracts, disputes with neighbors, and marriages. Although both criminal and civil cases involve an argument concerning the rights and responsibilities of the people involved in a case, there are still a lot of difference between criminal law and civil law in terms of principles, administration and procedures.
In this study, the difference between the civil and criminal court principles, administration, procedures and types of cases in Ontario will be compared and contrast. As part of going through the main discussion, examples of cases that occurred in Ontario since 2005 will be provided in this paper.
Difference between the Civil and Criminal Court Principles, Administration, and Procedures in Ontario
In principles, criminal law in Ontario includes acts that is proven to cause intentional harm to another person or other people’s property whereas civil law involves either disputes between two people or negligent acts that could end up causing harm to another person (Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association, 2010 a). Basically, the main purpose of criminal law is to protect the society’s peace and order whereas the civil law upholds the rights of each individual (Sixth Sense, 2010).
A good example of criminal law is the act of breaking into the home of another person purely because this type of action breaks the privacy and security of the residents who are living inside the house. Given the idea that crimes are offences made against the society, criminal law includes a wide-range of criminal offenses including vandalism to murder.
Unlike criminal law which involves the act of causing intentional harm to another person, civil law involves the argument between two people or any form of negligent acts which may end up causing harm to another person. These arguments can arise out of misunderstanding or disagreement over the ownership of land or buildings, dismissal of employee, bounced checks, or unresolved financial debts. Aside from simple family law cases such as divorce, division of conjugal properties, spousal and child support, parental responsibility for a child or the distribution of estates of deceased person; professional negligence and malpractice that could have resulted to physical injury or damages to another person is also categorized under civil court cases.
Since criminal offenses are made against the security and safety of the society, it is the state or Crown that is made responsible in the process of investigation and prosecution of the criminal allegations against the part of the victims. As part of the investigating procedure for criminal cases, it is the local police who have the authority to gather concrete evidences that can be filed in the court. In court, the person authorized to present the criminal case against the suspect are the public prosecutors including the judges and juries (Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association, 2010 a). Given that the suspect is proven guilty of a crime, the suspect will be convicted of a crime and will be punished for many years of imprisonment, fine, community sentence, or when to be discharge.
As a general rule, gathering of multiple concrete evidences that an
intentional crime was committed are necessary before any person will be convicted of a crime. In the absence of solid evidences, the suspect striking another person can be classified only as criminal assault. Not unless the suspect was proven to have intentionally beaten up another person without a reasonable doubt, it is not possible to accuse the suspect of a criminal case (Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association, 2010 a).
Unlike in criminal law, the state has no role in handling civil cases except when the party being sued for civil case is the government. The person who files a civil case is known as the plaintiff or the applicant whereas the person being sued is the defendant or respondent. Depending on the balance of probabilities, it is the courts who may decide whether or not the defendant is liable or not liable of a civil case, to dismiss a civil case due to insufficient evidences or order the losing party to pay for the damages through monetary award. As part of the investigating procedure for civil cases, it is the parties involved and lawyers are responsible in gathering evidences which will be presented in the courts (Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association, 2010 a).
Forming the lower ties within the Canadian court system in Ontario, the Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice make up the Court of Ontario. Specifically the Ontario Court of Justice is composed of 287 judges and 349 justices of the peace who were appointed to serve in the courts (Ontario Court of Justice, 2006 / 2007, p. 1). The hearing of all jury trials and trials before a judge for a preliminary hearing of all cases related to civil matters and criminal law and youth criminal justice matters are exclusively handled by the Superior Court of Justice (Ontario Court of Justice, 2006 / 2007, pp. 1 – 2). Under Child and Family Services Act, the Family Court Branch has the exclusive jurisdiction in handling all other family law matters except for divorce, division of property, spousal support and child custody (p. 2). Family cases related to divorce, division of property, spousal support and child custody is being handled by the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice.
It is the justices of peace of the Court who handles provincial offenses, bail hearings, and the issuance of search warrants whereas the judges of the court conduct trials for provincial offences, criminal and youth criminal justice bails, trails, and preliminary hearings, and family law cases except for divorce and the division of property (Ontario Court of Justice, 2010; Ontario Court of Justice, 2006 / 2007, p. 2). To avoid misjudgment, the Superior Court of Justice sits on appeal of conviction trails heard before a judge of Ontario Court of Justice (Ontario Court of Justice, 2006 / 2007, p. 2). Composed of the Chief of Justice of Ontario, the Associate Chief Justice of Ontario and 21 other judges; the Ontario Court of Appeal who is in-charge of hearing civil and criminal appeals coming from Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice (Court of Appeal for Ontario, 2010).
Types and Examples of Cases in Ontario
There are a lot of criminal and civil cases in Ontario. A good example of criminal case related to professional malpractice is the College of veterinarians of Ontario v. Greenberg-Blechman (Aug. 23, 2010, Ont. C.J., Madigan J.P.) [89 W.C.B. (2d) 622 (32 pp.)] when the accused company including two individuals who acted as the company’s board of directors were sued for practicing veterinary medicine without a licence. Since the Court acknowledged that the accused’s testimony was not credible as compared to the testimony of the prosecution withnesses, the Court revealed that the accused were guilty of practicing veterinary medicine without license (Law Times News, 2010).
Professional negligence is often classified as a civil law case. However, this is not true in the case of College of veterinarians of Ontario v. Greenberg-Blechman since the accused do not have veterinary license to cure, treat, or even conduct euthanesia on dying pets. In general, the main purpose of medical licensure is to not only to increase the integrity of medical practitioners but also protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. Given the accused intentionally formed the company in order to perform euthanesia on dying pets cannot be classified as professional negligence but intentional medical malpractice which can be classified as a criminal case.
In case the accused have veterinary license to treat animals and has accidentally killed an animal, the case of College of veterinarians of Ontario v. Greenberg-Blechman would have been totally different. Rather than a criminal case, the case would have been categorized as a civil law case mainly for the reasons that the act of killing the animal was not intentional and that the veterinary doctor has a license to treat and care for animals.
Although both criminal and civil cases involve an argument concerning the rights and responsibilities of the people involved in a case, it is easy to distinguish the difference between the two types of cases. Basically, criminal cases involves intentional act that could cause serious harm or threat to the life of a person whereas civil cases are cases that causes two individual parties to argue over something.
Family case law is unique even if it is classified as a civil case law. Family cases related to divorce, division of property, spousal support and child custody is being handled by the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice. Under Child and Family Services Act, the Family Court Branch has the exclusive jurisdiction in handling all other family law matters except for divorce, division of property, spousal support and child custody.
The Ontario Court of Appeal who is in-charge of hearing civil and criminal appeals coming from Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice. The Superior Court of Justice handles hearing of all jury trials and trials before a judge for a preliminary hearing of all cases related to civil matters and criminal law and youth criminal justice matters whereas bail hearings of other related provincial cases and the issuance of provincial search warrants are handles by the Ontario Court of Justice.