A criminal case can be distinguished from a civil case in that in a criminal case, the defendant is being charged by the state for violating a criminal law. For example, in the mid 1990's, O.J. Simpson was charged in criminal court with murdering his wife and friend. Following his acquittal in the criminal case, the families of the victims filed a civil case and prevailed in a wrongful death case against him. In the civil case, the family sued for damages (money). If O.J. Simpson had been convicted in the murder case, he would have received a life sentence in prison.