CIVIL DISPUTES Versus CRIMES
What is a Civil Dispute ? A civil dispute involves a legal dispute between two or more parties.
If the two parties cannot reach an agreement to avoid a costly court process, then a civil case may be filed with the courts. The person/entity filing the civil case is the "plaintiff" and the person/entity sued is called the “defendant.”
Contrast this with criminal cases where a victim of a crime does not sue, but rather, the State (plaintiff) charges the person allegedly committing the crime (defendant), and the victim becomes a witness in the case.
Another way to view this - a crime is a violation of a law established by a government agency - either city, county, state, or federal. A "dispute" between two or more parties in a civil dispute. i.e. There is no such thing as a "civil crime".
The Process. To begin a civil lawsuit, the "plaintiff" files a complaint with the court and "serves" a copy of the complaint by having it delivered to the "defendant" by a method approved by the court. The complaint describes how the plaintiff was damaged, explains how the defendant caused the damage, and asks the court to order relief. A plaintiff may seek money to compensate for the damage, or may ask the court to order the defendant to stop the damaging conduct.
Settling a civil dispute in court involves many "civil actions". Many of the civil proceedings are expensive and arduous, and may be out of the financial and emotional reach of some seniors. While many civil lawsuits against scams are successful, to make matters worse - civil proceedings often expose a senior who has been scammed to public display for being naïve or foolish, which is effectively making the victim a victim again. Often when a senior "plaintiff" wins a civil case, the efforts to collect the court award may involve another long civil court process with attorney and court.