Resolving a traffic ticket in court is handled differently from resolving a civil lawsuit because most traffic tickets are handled as criminal matters. The sentence in a criminal case can result in an order to pay a fine, a sentence of probation or time in jail. The sentence placed in a criminal case is a responsibility that a person has toward the “state” for violation of law; that is, it is a punishment for the act that was committed. The “state” could be from any form of government.
A civil matter usually results in an order awarding a money judgment to be paid by one party of a lawsuit to the other. A judgment in a civil matter does not include the nuisance of a criminal sentence. Therefore, the major variation is that in a criminal matter, a person who has violated a law can be ordered to forfeit their personal freedom since they have caused harm to the “state.” The payment to the “state” is ordered as retribution for an act that the wrongdoer committed.