What are the Different Types of Court Cases?

Posted on January 26th, 2023

For every 1,000 people in Pennsylvania, there are 3.9 violent crimes and 16.4 property crimes. The current population of Pennsylvania was nearly 13 million as of the last census in 2021. We’re not mathematicians, but that’s a significant amount of crime to happen in a year in just one state. Data may divide crimes into two types, but the court system needs to be organized to properly handle it as well. If one type of court dealt with every case, it would be overwhelming.

What Are the Different Types of Court?

There are currently four different types of courts in the United States: civil court, criminal court, traffic court, and juvenile court. They each handle different kinds of issues, except for juvenile and criminal court. The difference between these two is that one handles crimes committed by adults 18 or older, or serious violent crimes committed by juveniles. The juvenile court handles most crimes committed by juveniles aged 17 or younger.

Civil Court

Civil court is where two people or businesses are in disagreement and need legal expertise to settle it. In this case, no one is sentenced to prison or even fined, as one non-government entity cannot send anyone to prison. These cases are usually over a matter of money or ownership of assets.

In these cases, there are two sides, the plaintiff who is suing someone, and the defendant who is being sued. This also means that if the plaintiff wins, they will receive assets of some kind, but if the defendant wins, they won’t have to pay anything.

Sometimes, both parties can sue each other, and the winner will have to pay the other party. In some instances, the plaintiff can be forced by the court to pay the defendant’s legal fees if the plaintiff loses.

In these cases, there is also no prosecutor, which means no government official is arguing for or against either side. You can have a jury in a civil court case, but there doesn’t have to be one. It depends on what the legal disagreement is about.

Criminal Court

Criminal court is where someone is in a legal battle with the federal, state, or local government after being charged with a crime. The accused and their legal team faces a prosecutor who will try to prove to a jury that the accused committed the crime. In these cases, there must always be a jury if it goes to court.

Criminal charges include but are not limited to:

  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Theft, burglary, or robbery
  • Homicide
  • Manslaughter
  • Vandalism
  • Destruction of property
  • Fraud
  • And more

Some cases originally planned to go to juvenile or traffic court can end up being sent to a criminal court instead because of the severity of the crime.

Juvenile Court

Instead of being sent to criminal court, children who have committed a crime may go to juvenile court. For crimes such as theft, vandalism, destruction of property, and fraud (fake IDs), juveniles will face a court that treats them in a way fair for their age.

This doesn’t mean that juvenile court is easier on the accused if they’re found guilty. This just means that they will receive a punishment that is better suited to rehabilitating them than if they faced criminal court.

If the juvenile is 15 years or older, and commits one of these violent crimes, they will go to a criminal court instead:

  • Robbery
  • Rape
  • Aggravated assault
  • Grand theft auto
  • Aggravated indecent assault
  • Kidnapping

Using a deadly weapon in any crime not mentioned can see them sent to criminal court as well. If the juvenile is under 10 years old, it’s likely that they will not be charged unless the crime was severe.

Traffic Court

Traffic court handles cases that have to do with vehicle violations. This does not include people suing each other after a car accident, those are civil court cases. While traffic laws are rules that are not meant to be broken, they are not considered moral laws. If someone breaks a traffic law, this doesn’t mean their morality is in question, like when someone steals or attacks another person.

Traffic laws, therefore, need their own court so people are treated fairly, but also so they don’t slow down the rest of the court system. There are more traffic court cases than any other which means their system also has to work differently to accommodate the influx of cases. One of these accommodations is the lack of a jury.

DUIs can face traffic court if they are not severe but can face criminal court instead if they lead to an accident that destroyed public property or someone else’s property. Kalinoski Law can defend you if you face either court.

Contact Kalinoski Law for Any Type of Court Case

Lifetime Lawyer Craig Kalinoski has extensive experience across all four types of court cases. With how quickly a court case can change, you need an attorney who is prepared for anything.

We have experience with civil court cases with years of handling people’s divorces, and even more experience defending people against criminal charges. We understand how to help juveniles who need a second chance, and have defended people who can’t afford to lose their driver’s license.

Kalinoski Law is a law firm you can trust to defend you for life. If you need help, contact us today so we can begin to work on your cases as soon as possible.

Category: Civil Right

Share this Post
Craig Kalinoski
Craig Kalinoski

Craig P. Kalinoski is a respected attorney serving clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With a focus on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Civil Rights, he has established himself as a top-rated legal professional. Recognized as a Rising Star and admired by peers, Craig's commitment to excellence sets him apart in the legal field.


We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law and personal injury.

Back to Top