Criminal Defense Attorney in Benton

When people think about lawsuits, they often think about criminal lawsuits first. After all, those are the ones that get the most airtime on the news, and in TV dramas and movies.

Civil lawsuits, however, are no less serious.

What’s the difference between a civil and criminal lawsuit?

A criminal lawsuit is filed in regards to a crime– that is, someone breaking the law or committing an illegal act. Typically, the plaintiff in a criminal case is “the people” or “the state”, since the criminal act committed is a crime against society.

A civil lawsuit is filed between two parties. Civil lawsuits are often situations where someone’s rights have been violated in some way that isn’t necessarily a crime.

You’ve probably heard the “Miranda Rights” being read to suspects, on TV or in movies. One particularly important part of these rights is “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court.”

This is in place because of protections that exist for defendants in a criminal lawsuit– they are guaranteed the right to an attorney.

The same is not true in a civil lawsuit.

How can I get started filing a civil lawsuit in Arkansas?

The very first step in filing a civil lawsuit is filing a complaint with the court. In order to do this, you’ll need to visit your local court and fill out a form that’s called a complaint. You will also have to pay a small filing fee.

On this complaint form, the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) outlines the situation leading up to the lawsuit. They describe what’s happened and specify their desired result. They also must identify the defendant (the person being sued).

Once the complaint is filed, the court will issue a summons to the defendant. This document exists to inform the defendant that they are being sued.

In order for the defendant to fully understand the details of the lawsuit and to ensure that they are aware of the legal proceedings, the summons is delivered to the defendant in person by a process server.

What happens after the summons is served to the defendant?

After the defendant receives the summons informing them about the lawsuit, they are required to file an answer. This form puts their response to the lawsuit in writing; it doesn’t necessarily acknowledge that the lawsuit is legitimate or justified. In fact, it might include something called a motion to dismiss– which is just as it sounds, a motion to dismiss the lawsuit because it doesn’t constitute a legitimate legal claim. 

Can I file a civil lawsuit without an attorney?

In the United States, you are not required to have an attorney for civil cases. Anyone is legally entitled to represent themselves in civil court.

However, proceeding with a lawsuit without the guidance of an attorney is strongly discouraged. This is because attorneys have undergone extensive, rigorous education and firsthand professional experience to fully understand the necessary proceedings for the civil lawsuit at hand. 

Someone who has not undergone the same education and experience will not be able to represent themselves in court anywhere near as effectively.

If you are in the process of filing a civil lawsuit, the experienced attorneys at Digby Law Firm are here to help. We believe in personalized, one-on-one representation for every case. An attorney with decades of court experience is able to represent you in court as effectively as possible.

To get started with Digby Law Firm, give us a call today or schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you to defend your assets and your rights.


109 W South Street

Benton, AR 72015