Every citizen of a state has certain duties towards the state and in the interest of the society as a whole, the state prescribes certain norms of conduct that bind all members of the state upon which it has a jurisdiction to punish a person who transgresses against these (Kleyn & Viljoen 2002). A good example of a criminal offence is theft which is unlawful taking of something that does not belong to you. The sole purpose of theft law in this case is to prevent interference with property rights.
As far as criminal law is concerned, the state is part of the proceedings against the accused person. Criminal law is seen as an effective way of dealing with certain conducts which are deemed wrongful and violate the prescribed norms in society. In the case of the United States Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit (2007), the defendant Juan Carlos Elizade has been convicted as an “aggravated felony” for joyriding and was subsequently sentenced to a one year suspended sentence. Thus, cases with the intent of temporarily depriving the owner of his property rights constitute a criminal offense.
On the other hand, civil law is different from criminal law in that it constitutes private law which specifically deals with legal relationships between subjects (Kleyn & Viljoen 2002). The subjects in civil proceedings are relatively on the same footing with each other and the state only acts as an arbiter. Civil cases often involve family law, tort or contract laws. In a civil case, it is the plaintiff versus the defendant while in a criminal case it is the state versus the accused. The parties to a civil case decide whether they want to initiate proceedings while in a criminal case, the state initiates prosecution. The definite difference between a criminal and civil case is that the aim of criminal law is to punish the subjects threatening order and harmony in society while in contrast, the aim