Why is criminal procedure different from civil procedure?

Criminal procedure is different from civil procedure because the burdens and results are dramatically different. In criminal matters, action is taken by the ‘state’ (a federal, state or local government agency) against an individual or an organization (like a group of individuals, ‘business’ or other entity) for violation of law that can result in criminal penalties. The state has a more difficult burden of proof to meet before someone can have their liberties restrained by confinement in jail.

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What does “criminal procedure” mean and why is it important?

When a judge refers to the rules of criminal procedure, s/he is referring the rules which control how a criminal case will be handled. Rules of criminal procedure do not generally define what a violation of the law is, but rather will set out how any given criminal case will be treated as it progresses through the crminal court system. Most criminal cases will begin with an arrest. Before the police can arrest you, they must have probable cause to arrest you. Once you are arrested, you must be arraigned and informed of the charges against you. You have the right to request an attorney at arraignment. The same criminal procedure will apply for all criminal cases.

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