Difference Between Criminal Action and Civil Action:

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A criminal is someone that commits an act that breaks a legal law, for this they will be taken to court and face jail time or a criminal behaviour order which could give them curfews, limit movement or stop them from doing certain things. When in court the criminal becomes a defendant. If he is found guilty of committing a crime by the crown prosecution service who act on behalf of the Queen they will become convicted of the act. This will be followed by a potential time in prison depending on the crime. Civil action is an action that is taken upon someone for a crime that comes under civil law. Examples of these could be someone hasn’t been paid properly or a car that is hit and refusal to pay out from another person. Civil action is usually between two people, it is launched by the claimant who believes that they are owed a certain amount of money; however, it can also be about disputes between families and companies. The claimant usually starts the case by suing the defendant, if the defendant is found liable for the case in hand they will therefore owe compensation for damages caused to the claimant.

Legal and Moral Rules:

Legal rules are rules that are set out by parliament and the courts in order to keep peace within society and make sure that people within their means. These laws are a set of formal rules of which if they are broken the defendant in whatever case could find themselves with a jail sentence for more serious cases, injunctions could be included or be a lone punishment or they could be sued for a high amount of money. Moral rules are a set of informal rules that are set out by society, they can be defined by many things which include the beliefs of a person, what certain religions see as right or wrong as many believe different things and social pressure whether it be from a small group of people for example people in a village or a larger group like a whole city full of people who believe a certain thing. If somebody breaks moral rules than people may not like you as a human being for doing that,you could be completely shunned from society and people will lose general respect for you.

Criminal Law:

Criminal law is the way to convict criminals who commit more serious crimes. These crimes include things like theft, rape, murder and manslaughter. The way a person is convicted is that they are accused of doing a crime and are then taken to court. From there the accused will go through a trial and if they are found guilty by the Crown Prosecution Service who act on behalf of the Queen they they become a convicted person. If they are convicted then they can be charged with time in prison and criminal behaviour orders which means they won’t be able to do certain things when they get out of jail.

Double Jeopardy:

Double jeopardy is a law that was made that meant criminals could not be re-trialled for the same offence even if fresh evidence for that crime surfaced which would’ve taken them back to court now. However, the law on double jeopardy was changed and now states that an accused person will be taken back to court for a retrial if new significant evidence was found that could prove that a person has committed the crime.

Actus Reus:

Actus reus is one of the two leading things to determine whether somebody is guilty of a crime or not, it means guilty act. If the accused admits that they have done something wrong, or there is evidence to prove it and there is no break in causation then the person has committed a guilty act. A guilty act is one part of a crime that will determine whether someone is guilty or not, the other part the accused must have in order to be guilty is mens rea which is a guilty mind.


Causation is the link of events that leads to the ultimate outcome of a specific crime, these chain events have to be proven to be linked to one action in order for someone to be directly guilty of a crime. For example R v Jordan when the defendant stabbed a victim, the victim was starting to heal but was then given a shot of antibiotics which he was majorly allergic to, this ended up killing him. In that situation the accused didn’t go down for murder as it was found to be medical failure that led to the victim eventually dying.

Voluntary and Involuntary:

Voluntary actus reus of a crime is when the defendant has committed a crime knowing full well that their actions would result in a dangerous situation. An example of this would bethe Hill v Baxter case where a man fell asleep at the wheel of a car and therefore lost control and killed someone, there are steps that he could have taken to avoid this situation happening in the first place which would have been to stop the car in a suitable place and rest.

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Involuntary actus reus is when the defendant has committed a crime but has had no control over what their actions were. An example of this would be if you were in a car and a swarm of bees flew through the window into your car, you wouldn’t be able to control the vehicle due to an external source. This distraction would make your action involuntary as you wouldn’t be able to control the car.

Positive Actions:

Positive actions is when someone voluntarily does something for example if you were to pick something up and throw it across a room, then it is a positive action. Positive actions are taken in employment when someone who comes under a certain type of people feels that they are disadvantages then the employer can do something to make them feel equal with the rest of their colleagues.


Omissions are when you have a voluntary, contractual or legal obligation of which to look after someone. If you volunteer to look after someone for example you volunteer to look after your next neighbour and something happens you are voluntarily liable for what happens. If you are contractually liable then you are liable for people around you for example the Pittwood case where Pittwood had to close the gates to the rail tracks and didn’t one night, someone walked on their and died. He was deemed liable for manslaughter under no intent to kill was obligatory to do so. Legal obligation to look after someone would be if you were a teacher and had to look after the students.

Mens rea:

Mens rea is the guilty mind of someone who commits a crime. To have the mens rea of a crime you must have the pre meditated idea that you wanted to do a specific thing. For example if you plan to kill someone before you do it then you have the mens rea of murder as you have thought of doing it and have carried it out. Fault in mens rea comes when somebody has meant to do something and they have in fact done the crime. Their fault must be proven with no break in the chain of causation by medical fault or any other source. It must be proven that the person genuinely has been at fault for the crime and hasn’t committed it by accident.


Intent has two parts of it of which there is direct intent and indirect intent for a crime. Direct intent is when someone has planned what they have to do and follow through with that act knowing the consequences of what they are going to do. Indirect intent is when someone creates a situation where they have done something but have not got their outcome that they thought might happen. For example if you threw a brick at someone who has provoked you and only meant to hurt them but it actually kills them then it is indirect intent.


Recklessness is when someone performs a certain action with an outcome which is much different to what they intended to happen. For example if you blew up your house because you wanted to claim the insurance and you accidentally killed one of your family members than your actions are seen as reckless as they are virtually certain to happen. It is causing a situation of which the outcome is going to be obviously dangerous.

Transferred Malice:

Transferred malice is when someone has an intention to go and hurt one person but accidentally causes harm to another. In these types of situations the defendant’s mens rea for the intention of harming the first person is transferred over to the person they actually wanted to harm. Following this they are seen as liable for the harm of that person because of the original intent to harm another.


Negligence is when the act of a person not doing something causes harm to someone else and there are two types of negligence which is duty of care and involuntary. A voluntary duty of care is when someone takes on a role for example a contract which states what they should do in order to avoid specific things happening. An example of this is the Plaintiff case where a man had a duty to shut the gate to a railway track, he didn’t and somebody died as a result of walking on the tracks, he was voluntarily responsible under duty of care for their death.

Strict Liability:

Strict liability is a list of offences which don’t require mens rea in order for somebody to be guilty of it. For example, speeding is a strict liability offence even if someone has tried their very best to adhere to stay within the speed limit, if they go over it, they will be charged with the offence no matter what they were thinking at the time of the act. Strict liability is often used for health and safety within the workplace as it is something that most people rely on, on a daily basis and therefore need some sort of protection if it goes wrong.

State Of Affairs:

State of affairs is an exception to the general rule of Actus Reus where you find yourself in a situation where you have committed a crime involuntarily. An example of this is a lady who was deported to Ireland as she was in England illegally, she was told she’d be arrested if she were to return. However, she was then deported back from Ireland to England and was arrested for re-entering after being deported.

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Difference Between Criminal Action and Civil Action:. (2020, December 14). WritingBros. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/difference-between-criminal-action-and-civil-action/
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