Civil vs. Criminal Law Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Teachers may use this lesson plan to teach students the differences between criminal law and civil law. Students will use content-specific language when summarizing the cause, parties, burden of proof, and remedies for both types of cases.

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Differentiate between civil and criminal law
  • Use legal terminology to explain civil and criminal cases


60 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).


  • acquit
  • beyond a reasonable doubt
  • burden of proof
  • cause of action
  • civil law
  • convicted
  • criminal law
  • defendant
  • incarceration
  • judgment
  • legal remedy
  • liable
  • plaintiff
  • preponderance of the evidence
  • private parties
  • prosecute


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