Civil Matters

Civil Law

Civil law is the body of laws in the State of Arizona dealing with the rights of private citizens. Civil cases typically involve legal disagreements between individuals, businesses, corporations or partnerships. While the police / prosecutors (government) are the plaintiffs in filing criminal actions, they are "generally" not the plaintiff in civil cases, except when a police officer issues a citation for a "civil traffic" violation. However, a person or business can be involved in a lawsuit with a government entity such as a state, county or city that is also civil in nature. Another difference between civil and criminal is that criminal cases may include jail as part of the sentence, while civil cases cannot.

Rules of Court

Most civil cases involve disputes related to breach of contract or an attempt to collect a debt, or monetary compensation for personal injuries such as traffic accidents, property damage, family law issues such as divorce, evictions, etc,. Some of these areas of Civil law have their own Rules of court such as Small claims, Family law, Evictions (which also has specific statutes that apply [Title 33-property]), and others. In addition, civil actions can also include purely procedural steps, such as Covenant Marriage, Name Change and Appearance Bond.

Civil Suits

Besides different kinds of civil suits, there are also different levels of civil suits. A suit or claim over $10,000 must be filed in Superior Court. A claim of $10,000 or less is filed in Justice Court. In addition, there are special laws that create within the Justice court, a special civil court for really simple claims, called "Small Claims" which is limited to cases no greater than $2,500. These simple cases follow simpler more streamlined court procedure and evidence rules. (Small Claims Court).

Counter Suit

In some civil cases, the defendant may file a counter suit. This is when the defendant, along with his answer (as explained below), then alleges that the Plaintiff is liable to him for specific acts, debts, etc. If a counter claim is properly filed by the defendant and served upon the plaintiff, the plaintiff (now called the "Plaintiff / counter defendant") also files an answer to the counter claim. Thereafter, the court then proceeds in adjudicating both lawsuits at the same time. Each court will work hard to protect and help each party, but remember the court / Judge, is not your attorney and cannot advise you as to what you should do. To get advice, you should consult an attorney or study the rules.