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A civil court is a local court that handles matters that are not criminal in nature. Legal matters which require the decision of a judge, such as personal lawsuits which are commonly known as small claims lawsuits, as well as family and domestic issues. The civil court will hand down a decision which all the parties that are involved must follow, or they can be brought up on criminal charges. These charges would be pressed by a higher court, though, since the civil level does not handle these types of issues.
As with other types of court proceedings, one person demands that some type of relief be ordered by the judge in the given case in civil court. The two most common types of relief that civil courts hand out are monetary and equitable relief settlements. Monetary relief settlements occur when one person is suing another, such as for damages incurred during a dog attack. An equitable relief settlement would be ordered in cases such as a barking dog that keeps the neighbors up all night. These two types of settlements can be awarded by the judge, can be changed in order to suit the given case, or can be denied. Proof lies with the person that filed the suit, so if evidence is not effectively introduced into the proceedings, the case can be lost, much like other more popular criminal trials.
Cases in civil court begin with a plaintiff filing some type of lawsuit against a defendant. Proper documentation must be filed with the courts, and the fee that is set forth by the given area must be paid before a case can be made. From there, the defendant must be served and then is given a specific amount of time to respond to the case. The defendant can either file motions against the case, or can agree to go ahead with the court hearings and make a defense there.
Only private individuals or companies can file a civil court case. No civil trial can be started by any government entity, and as such, is not a criminal court. It is possible to have a criminal proceeding in one court, while having a civil trial in another. This frequently happens when drunk drivers injure others. The state will file criminal charges in a higher court, while the family of the victims will file for damages on a civil level.