What Are the Types of Court Cases in the USA?

Rest your case. Just figure out where you want to rest it.

The movies show court cases in the same way. Two lawyers argue in front of a judge, with a jury off to the side evaluating evidence. This confuses the distinctions between criminal and civil cases.

There are even more distinctions than that. Before you pursue any type of legal action, you should know the types of court cases in the United States. Here is a quick guide.

Criminal Types of Court Cases

Many people are familiar with criminal court cases. Criminal cases involve codes of behavior that the government has passed into law.

The government initiates criminal court cases, and government-employed prosecutors try the cases in court. Nearly all criminal cases use grand juries to determine if there is enough evidence to bring to trial. Within the trial, juries determine the guilt of a defendant.

State courts try criminal cases. Criminal violations can progress to federal courts if a violation of federal laws occurred. Murder is usually a violation in state court, but the murder of a federal official triggers proceedings in federal court.

Criminal offenses include murder, assault, and robbery. A wrongful death case also involves criminal offenses. Monetary offenses like financial fraud are criminal offenses, but federal courts handle these crimes.

Types of Court Cases

Civil Cases

Civil cases occur when a party seeks money or compensation from another party. Most judges try civil cases in state courts, but they can progress to federal ones.

Most civil cases do not use lawyers. Each party represents themselves, pleading their case in front of a judge. Civil cases may or may not involve juries.

There are many types of civil cases. The most common civil cases involve divorce and custody. Protective orders against domestic violence are civil cases as well.

Other common civil cases include contract and property disputes. If a landlord tries to evict a client, they pursue a civil case. Complaints against the city or federal government are usually tried as civil cases.

A tort is a civil case in which one party alleges physical or emotional harm. This is different from a criminal case involving assault because the party seeks financial compensation. Tort cases are tried on the civil level.

An incident may result in a criminal and civil case. The two cases are separated from each other and tried in different courts. A person may be found not guilty of criminal charges, but guilty of civil ones.

Bankruptcy Cases

A third distinct type of case involves bankruptcy. Bankruptcy courts are federal courts.

Bankruptcy occurs when a person cannot repay their debts. A debtor files a petition in court, and the court then evaluates the debtor’s situation. They determine how they can use their assets to pay off their debt.

A bankruptcy judge oversees cases. They can decide if a debtor should be discharged from their debts. Juries are not involved, though proceedings are accessible to the public.

Learn About the Law

Not all court cases are alike. Once you understand the different types of court cases, you can begin your journey through the legal system.

Criminal cases involve violations of codified laws. Most criminal cases are tried in state courts, but criminal offenses can occur on the federal level. Civil cases are also tried in state courts, as they involve financial damages.

Bankruptcy cases are a special kind of case. All bankruptcy cases take place in special federal courts. They do not use juries.

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What To Do Immediately After Receiving a Class Action Lawsuit Notice

In 2019, there were 428 securities class-action lawsuits alone that were filed. Although this is a common type of lawsuit, there are many other class-action lawsuits filed each year. If you have received a notice to participate in a class-action lawsuit, you need to know what to do next.

Read on to learn about what you should do immediately after receiving a class action lawsuit notice.

Read the Notice

Of course, you should have already read the notice before finding this article and reading it. However, if you haven’t, this is the first step to take. If you already have, read it again to give yourself a refresher.

The importance of carefully reading a class action lawsuit is to check if the definition applies to you. A class-action lawsuit definition is written out in the document, usually in the beginning.

Open class action lawsuits are against a company that harmed an entire group of people. Monetary compensation is usually given to the injured party to help them recover.

Because there is a large number of plaintiffs, the total amount owed to each person is low. In some cases, the injured are significant enough to require a higher compensation amount. Each plaintiff will get contacted by a lawyer.

Choose an Option

Top class action lawsuits have three options for an individual to choose from. After understanding what is a class action lawsuit, you can decide which option is best for you. Some choices provide more compensation than others.

The three options to decide upon are:

Participate as a Member

The first option you can pick after receiving a class action lawsuit is participating in it as a member. This can only be done if you read the notice and fit the description of the case.

When you take part in the lawsuit, you have to pursue the case independently. This means you cannot build a case with a private claim.

Opting Out

You can decide that the lawsuit is not for you and opt-out of participating. To do this, you can fill out a corresponding box and mail it in before the deadline. This is the best option for those who know the lawsuit has nothing to do with them.

Some may decide to opt-out of the class action to pursue a private lawsuit. When you take part in a class-action lawsuit, pursuing an individual claim is impossible.

Participate as a Plaintiff

The last option is to participate as a plaintiff. This means you can fully participate by hiring a different lawyer to attempt to receive greater compensation.

If you need to play a bigger role than the member in a class-action suit, this is the right choice for you. Most do it when their damages are more significant than other participants. As a named plaintiff, you have more at stake so you should hire a lawyer using this link.

Class Action Lawsuit Explained

The most important step to do after getting a class action lawsuit notice is to read it thoroughly. Understanding what the lawsuit is about will help you decide which option is right for you. Be sure to make your choice between the three options before the deadline listed on the notice.

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