Criminal vs. Civil

Victor Rotolo, Steven Karch and the attorneys at Rotolo Karch Law handle both civil matters and criminal matters. While we deal with these different types of cases on a daily basis, we realize that quite often our clients may not understand the differences between a civil matter versus a criminal matter. Below we provide a brief explanation of some of the key differences between a civil and criminal matter which may be useful. If, after reading the information you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact our law office to speak with one of our attorneys.

Super Lawyers Badge

Victor A. Rotolo has been included on the List of New Jersey Super Lawyers in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, marking his twelfth year of inclusion on this list. The list of New Jersey Super Lawyers is generated by the Thomson Reuters organization which employs the following methodology and set of standards to compile the list each year. Super Lawyers Selection Methodology [No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court.]

Certified Civil Trial Attorney Badge

Victor A. Rotolo is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney.

"A certified attorney is more than just an attorney who specializes in a particular area of law. A New Jersey attorney who is certified by the Supreme Court as a civil trial attorney must have:

  • been a member in good standing of the New Jersey bar for over 5 years
  • demonstrated a substantial level of experience in civil trial law
  • been favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with his or her work
  • taken and passed a written examination in civil trial law."

Source: Supreme Court of New Jersey, Board on Attorney Certification, Brochure on Certified Civil Trial Attorney. See Rule 1:39: Specialty Certification of Attorneys.

Civil versus Criminal – Understanding the Differences

A harmful act committed against our society is referred to as a crime and falls under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Justice System.  Criminal offenses are accusations of a crime against our society in general and as a whole. In contrast, civil cases mainly involve disputes between people or entities (i.e., a corporation).

There are other key differences between a criminal and civil case. Some key differences noted are as follows:

CivilCriminal
Commencement:  A civil case begins with a claim by a plaintiff (a person or entity such as a corporation or the government) against a defendant (the person failing to carry out a legal duty owed to the plaintiff).Commencement:  A criminal case begins when the harmful act is committed. A victim of a criminal act is not responsible for initiating a case against the accused. The government, either federal or state, will prosecute an accused criminal.
Parties: There is a plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) which are also referred to as ‘parties’ or ‘litigants.’Parties: The government prosecutes the case through the United States Attorney's Office (federal crimes)  or the New Jersey’s attorney's office (state crimes).
Outcome: Courts order the defendant to fulfill a duty or to make compensation for harm done or possibly both.Outcome: A person that is found guilty of committing a crime receives a sentence, and the sentence may be in the form of
  1. a monetary fine or restitution to the victim ordered by the courts, and/or
  2. loss of liberty or supervision.
Purpose:  The purpose of civilian law is to make sure that rights under the Constitution or under Federal or State Law are protected.Purpose:  The purposes of criminal law are to protect and to serve.
  • to express public morality (when the public decides the law by what is right or wrong depending on the community)
  • to teach sociable boundaries (when the criminal is punished to be taught a lesson)
Attorneys Fees:  Each party pays directly for his/her attorney fees although sometimes the payment of legal fees is included in the Court’s rulingAttorneys Fees:  Our Federal and State taxes pay for the prosecuting attorney’s salary (and the entire office); most times the accused pays for his/her legal fees, however, a court-appointed attorney is used when the accused cannot pay legal fees
Examples: contract disputes between parties, sexual harassment suits, accidents.Examples: murder, assault, rape, sexual abuse, theft, robbery, burglary, fraud.


If you or a loved one is accused of committing a crime, call the experienced attorneys at Rotolo Karch Law.

Call Rotolo Karch Law today - 908.534.7900

Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Call Us 908-534-7900
Captcha Image