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Getting Started: When to Hire an Attorney 

Understanding Different Types of Law


Civil Law

Civil law is an area of law that includes all legal issues that are not linked to criminal activity or breaking the law. Typically, one party sues another party because they have been “wronged” and want compensation for that “wrong.” Civil law is made famous by movies displaying courtroom action, like The Social Network, Erin Brockovich, and A Civil Action.  However, civil law includes a number of other categories, including reviewing and negotiating contracts, real estate transactions, planning for death, and divorces.

Criminal Law

Criminal law involves offenses that break local, state, or federal government laws. The prosecution is handled by lawyers that are employed by the government while the defense is handled by a publicly appointed or private defense attorney. Criminal law includes small offenses (misdemeanors) and serious crimes (felonies).

If you encounter a situation that forces you to face the criminal legal system, almost without question you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.  

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