Saturday, August 21, 2010

Are these civil or criminal cases?

Hey guys, my friend Laura and I need help on our HN US History Homework. We got all of them but two:

1. Bill got caught shoplifting at Walmart and was arrested.

2. Jerry was arrested for yelling ';Fire!'; in a crowded theater.

Thanks a lot!Are these civil or criminal cases?
Both situations are violations of criminal law. Stealing is a criminal offense. And shouting something that will incite an immediate and potentially dangerous reaction from a crowd is also a criminal offense (disturbing the peace, inciting a riot, etc.).

Both can BECOME a civil case. Walmart can sue Bill for the costs associated with his shoplifting behavior. Jerry can be sued by the theater for the loss of business that resulted when people ran out and/or by the customers who didn't get to watch the movie they paid to see and who may have been injured.Are these civil or criminal cases?
The absolute correct answer to both situations is they are BOTH CIVIL and CRIMINAL cases. The police can arrest you if you shoplift and they can arrest you for disturbing the peace or by causing a panic in the theater. Walmart can file a civil suit in small claims for the value of the merchandise that was taken (if it has not been replaced or returned). Walmart can also bring a petition for injunctive relief against you to keep you from returning to their store. That is a civil remedy.

The theater owner can likewise bring a civil action against you to enjoin you from coming to the theater. The theater or anyone who may have gotten injured in the panic leaving the theater can sue you for their medical costs and injuries if they were injured as a result of yelling ';fire'; in the crowded theater.
Technically speaking, they are neither. A case does not exist until someone files it with the court. The acts of shoplifting, causing a riot, disturbing the peace, or even being arrested do not create a court case, and therefore neither a criminal nor civil case exists. The situations you have listed create the potential for either/both civil and criminal complaints to be filed.
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