Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Florida Legal Article: Criminal Defense Attorney Fleming Island Florida


Criminal defense attorneys in Fleming Island, Florida specialize in practicing criminal law, rather than civil law.  Many people are confused about just what differentiates the two areas of law.  There are fundamental differences between the two.  A criminal case is brought about by the government, who seeks to punish an accused for an act considered a crime under either federal or Florida statutes.    A civil case, however, has to do with disputes between individuals and/or organizations, typically relating to the rights and duties owed to each other.

In both Fleming Island and Florida, criminal defense attorneys who represent clients accused of criminal violations will face off against the prosecutor rather than the crime victim.  The prosecutor can file charges against the accused even if the victim disapproves.  Alternatively, the prosecutor can refuse to file criminal charges even if the victim wishes otherwise.  In a civil case, the injured party is the one who initiates the case by filing a petition with the court.

Defendants who are convicted in the criminal court system can face a fine or incarceration–or both.  Criminal defense attorneys in Fleming Island, Florida, will try to get the smallest amount of incarceration possible for clients, whereas civil defense attorneys don’t have to worry about jail time at all.  Typically the only punishments possible in civil cases are paying money damages or giving up property.

In criminal cases, the government must appoint criminal defense attorneys–in Fleming Island or Florida at large–to represent those accused of crimes who cannot afford to hire their own attorneys.  Parties in civil cases, however, are required to either pay for their own attorneys or represent themselves.  The exceptions to this rule are for juvenile court cases or cases involving civil contempt of court where the accused could face jail time.

Another big difference between civil and criminal defense attorneys (in Fleming Island or Florida as a whole) is the burden of proof required in each type of case.  In criminal cases, the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  In a civil case, the plaintiff must only prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” (meaning greater than 50%) that the defendant is liable for the damages.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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