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CIVIL VERSUS CRIMINAL LAW

As a public service, the Chubbuck Police Department provides information regarding the differences between civil and criminal law below.  In addition, links to resources which will assist community members with civil issues are provided to the right.  By definition, this and all law enforcement agencies are tasked with the enforcement of only criminal law.  However, to maintain order, this agency will "stand-by" during certain contested civil transactions or processes such as custody exchanges.

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CIVIL LAW LINKS
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THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LAW

Criminal law addresses the violation of a written law in which the State of Idaho prosecutes an individual on behalf of the citizenry as a whole.  Criminal law violations generate the need to investigate crimes, prosecute defendants, and hold offenders accountable, usually through penitentiary, jail or probationary sentences.

The following are examples of common criminal law violations
  • Traffic code violations such as speeding or equipment citations
  • Drug offenses including the use, sale or possession of illegal narcotics
  • Physical offenses such as assault, sexual abuse or murder
  • Theft of money, services or property
Civil law addresses personal or contractual disputes between individuals and/or organizations.  In most cases, civil disputes involve one person and/or organization seeking compliance to a written or verbal agreement between themselves and a second party.
The following are examples of common civil law disputes
  • Familial issues such as divorce decree interpretation or child custody exchanges
  • Contractual disagreements between individuals and/or organizations
  • Disputes regarding property ownership in which both parties have claims
  • Disagreements regarding neighborhood covenants or landlord / renter issues
A police officer is charged with enforcing criminal law, not interpreting civil law or mediating contract disputes.  Due to lack of training and expertise in the area of civil law, this agency will not offer legal advice concerning civil matters beyond suggesting that the parties involved contact legal counsel.
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