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Tort law vs. criminal law – what you NEED to know before your court case

Legal jargon and terms can be confusing – especially if you are the one who has been convicted of a crime. During the court proceedings and build-up period to your trial, you may be stressed out – and understandably so. To help you best prepare for your case and build your defense, you need to find a lawyer specializing in your area of crimes.

But what are the differences between tort crimes and criminal crimes? Suppose you are confused about what area of law your specific charge is filed under. In that case, you need to know the difference between tort and criminal law before choosing a reputable and trustworthy lawyer with the right experience.

criminal law

Tort law vs. criminal law

There are extreme differences between tort and criminal crimes when comparing these two areas of law. To best choose a reputable lawyer, like one from Spodek Law Group, you need to know the differences between torts and crimes.

Governments pass laws to sentence and hold those accountable for actions that cause harm – even without meaning to. A crime can be described as an act that injures society, even if the act is not considered a crime under common law. Many acts that result in harm to others are accidents and not premeditated, meaning the person held responsible did not harm an individual or society as a whole.

For example, a car accident is not a crime, although you may kill or severely harm someone in the process. In this case, this accident would be considered a tort. A tort is an act that injures a person’s body or property but without malicious intent.

The same act can also be a crime. Although this may be confusing, think of it this way. Hitting someone with a car can be an accident, which is a tort, or it can be vehicular manslaughter, which is a crime. Criminal law helps to punish those who commit crimes with the intent of hurting someone or society.

Details of a tort

To get a better understanding of a tort, there are certain instances that almost always qualify as a tort in law:

  • The charges are only brought by the plaintiff and not the government
  • The defendant must pay damages to the plaintiff if they lose the court case
  • A tort is held in civil court, meaning a civil lawyer may be the best option for you
  • A tort is a wrongful act that interferes with another person or property

Details of a crime

  • A crime is a wrongful act that is considered a “crime”.
  • The accused is called the defendant, or the person who has been convicted of committing the crime
  • The victim is the person who has been hurt by the defendant
  • The charges are brought by the government, not the plaintiff
  • If the defendant loses, the defendant has to serve a jail sentence.
  • You need a criminal lawyer to help defend you in the event of a criminal court case


As you can see, there are clear and distinctive differences between a tort and a crime. A tort is an accident that causes unintentional damage to another person, whereas a crime is a malicious act resulting in jail time. You need to consider your charges before hiring a criminal lawyer to help you win your court case.

Last modified: June 2, 2021