I have often been asked by people what is the difference between a criminal and a civil cases. It is easy for all to say the one which you believe is a crime can be labelled as a criminal case and the civil case is the one where it is between 2 persons who have a dispute which each other. Easy right? Not so it seems when every other day, here in Malaysia, there seems to be a trend for a police report to be done on someone at the drop of a hat. Someone is not satisfied with his neighbour as his tree branch hangs on his area. Someone was ousted out of his official office through tricks and votes buyout. Apartments are not mamaintained properly. Who you gonna call?
All these seems to make the police having too much on their hands even to those matters which are not within their jurisdiction. People just wouldn't take the initiative to really understand the law or at least get some lawyers' advices to make sure that what they are facing is a civil or a criminal matter. Of course there are the type of civil matter which seems to be of criminal in nature. It is called tort and the easiest example is assault and battery which resulted in damages or injury to the other person. You hit someone, you can press charge by making a police report and then still sue him or her in court for a sum of money if you suffer damages in whatever form.
Let us look at an accident. If you hit a vehicle in front of you due to whatever reason, even if your excuse is that the car brakes and you did not have time to follow suit, you are liable to be compounded by the traffic police a sum of MYR300-00. Of course you are then considered to have done a crime as the prosecutor is the one who brings you to court. Then you can also be sued by that car owner if there is any damage to the car or any injury to the person or anybody inside the vehicle. Two separate matters in which the first one is where the state (translation : the government) doing it's job in protecting and upholding the law. The second matter is a dispute between the two vehicle's owners. Easy right?
Now, there are some cases where there are three separate suits can be conducted. Two can happen in the court of law and one in another forum. Cases where a professional who has a license to conduct his practice is the best scenario for this. A lawyer, a doctor or an engineer are those whose services have the option to be in trouble thrice. There are other professions of course but these are those who you hear a lot of burdens are put on their shoulder. They can lose their license in which can be considered as an internal inquiry by his or her peers. In Malaysia, the license of lawyers can be revoked by the Bar Council Displinary Committee. Then if they did a breach of trust, the client can sue for their money if there are any involve and damages, if there are any. Then they can be charged by the public prosecutor on a separate criminal charge.
Easy right? Yeah, right...