Civil procedure is legally defined as the procedure under which civil law is carried out. It refers to civil law, which encompasses laws pertaining to business, estates, legal contracts, domestic issues, accidents, and generally anything that is not considered criminal. There are instances in which civil and criminal procedure may overlap.
Civil procedure is carried out under the jurisdiction of the civil court. Domestic relations, while falling under civil law, are often handled in domestic relations court. Civil law is an intricate and complex set of rules and regulations that apply to the filing, pursuance, and trial of civil lawsuits. Civil procedure refers only to the procedure and not to the laws themselves.
Civil laws are set at both federal and state levels. Many times, civil law and criminal law overlap, and the same case may be tried under both civil procedure and criminal procedure. For example, if a driver hits a pedestrian while driving, killing the person, he or she can be tried in criminal court for vehicular manslaughter, and the victim’s family might be able to file a civil lawsuit for the same case.
Under civil procedure, civil laws are designed to protect a person’s civil rights or liberties. In cases in which a person’s civil rights have been violated, civil procedure defines whether or not the person can pursue legal action. It also defines to what extent action can be taken. Civil law is a specialized area of law represented by practicing lawyers. Many specialize in one particular area, whether domestic, business, or real estate, and have particular knowledge of civil procedure in their practicing area.
Depending on your circumstances and the representation you need, you can generally find attorneys by checking with your local bar association or by referring to the yellow pages. Usually specialties are listed, or you can contact an attorney who practices general law, who should be familiar with civil procedures in all areas of civil law. If you need an attorney for a situation that could lapse over into criminal procedure, you should hire a criminal lawyer.