Primary tabs

A case is a civil or criminal proceeding at law or in equity. It can also be referred to as an action, suit, or controversy, depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the dispute.

  • A civil case normally involves two parties with equal status, such as a case between two citizens or a case between a citizen and a corporation.
  • A criminal case typically involves two parties with different statuses; one party (the prosecutor) represents the State - the other party (the defendant) generally speaking, is an individual or a corporation.

See controversy for an explanation of the “case or controversy” requirement in federal court.

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]