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Prosecute vs. Sue: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
To prosecute is to formally charge someone with a crime in a court of law, while to sue is to bring a civil lawsuit against a person or entity for damages.
Prosecute vs. Sue

Key Differences

This term refers to the legal process where a government attorney charges and tries someone for a criminal offense. It is a formal process in criminal law.
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Dec 05, 2023
To sue means to initiate a lawsuit in civil court, typically for compensation or damages, often involving private disputes between individuals or entities.
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Prosecution is carried out by public officials (like district attorneys), while anyone can file a lawsuit to sue someone in civil court.
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Prosecution aims to punish and prevent crime, ensuring public order, whereas suing typically seeks personal redress or compensation.
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Prosecution deals with crimes against the state or society, like theft or murder, while suing involves personal claims like breaches of contract or personal injury.
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Comparison Chart

Legal Domain

Criminal law
Civil law
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Initiated by

Government attorneys
Private individuals or entities
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Objective

Punish crime, maintain public order
Seek personal compensation or redress
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Example of Cases

Murder, theft, drug offenses
Personal injury, breach of contract, defamation
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Outcome

Conviction, penalties like jail or fines
Financial compensation, enforcement of rights
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Prosecute and Sue Definitions

Prosecute

The process of seeking a legal conviction in court.
The government's policy was to prosecute all instances of tax fraud.
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Sue

To initiate a court case for personal compensation.
The tenant sued the landlord for not addressing the building's safety hazards.
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Prosecute

The act of conducting a criminal trial against someone.
The district attorney will prosecute the case vigorously.
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Sue

Engaging in litigation to resolve a private dispute.
The artist sued her manager for breach of contract.
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Prosecute

To pursue legal action against a person for a criminal act.
They chose to prosecute rather than settle the matter privately.
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Sue

To bring a civil action against someone in court.
She decided to sue the company for wrongful termination.
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Prosecute

To initiate or conduct a criminal case against
Prosecute a defendant for murder.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sue

Seeking legal remedy through a civil lawsuit.
After the accident, he chose to sue for medical expenses and damages.
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Prosecute

To initiate or conduct (a civil case or legal action)
Prosecute a lawsuit for libel.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sue

(Law) To initiate or pursue legal proceedings against (another party).
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Prosecute

To initiate or conduct legal proceedings regarding (an offense, for example)
Prosecute drug possession.
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Sue

(Archaic) To court; woo.
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Prosecute

To pursue (an undertaking, for example) until completion; continue to the very end
Prosecute a war.
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Sue

(Obsolete) To make a petition to; appeal to; beseech.
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Prosecute

To carry on, engage in, or practice (an occupation or business).
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Sue

(Law) To initiate or pursue legal proceedings; bring suit.
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Prosecute

To chase or pursue (a vessel)
"He held a dispatch saying that [they] had prosecuted and probably killed an Echo-class missile submarine" (Tom Clancy).
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Sue

To make an appeal or entreaty
"When you have gone too far to recede, do not sue to me for leniency" (Charles Dickens).
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Prosecute

To initiate or conduct legal proceedings
Decided to prosecute.
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Sue

(Archaic) To pursue a courtship; woo.
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Prosecute

To start criminal proceedings against.
To prosecute a man for trespass, or for a riot
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Sue

(transitive) To file a legal action against someone, generally a non-criminal action.
Sue someone for selling a faulty product
I plan to sue you for everything you have.
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Prosecute

To charge, try.
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Sue

(ambitransitive) To seek by request; to make application; to petition; to entreat; to plead.
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Prosecute

To seek to obtain by legal process.
To prosecute a right or a claim in a court of law
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Sue

To clean (the beak, etc.).
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Prosecute

(transitive) To pursue something to the end.
To prosecute a scheme, hope, or claim
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Sue

To leave high and dry on shore.
To sue a ship
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Prosecute

To follow or pursue with a view to reach, execute, or accomplish; to endeavor to obtain or complete; to carry on; to continue; as, to prosecute a scheme, hope, or claim.
I am beloved Hermia;Why should not I, then, prosecute my right ?
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Sue

To court.
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Prosecute

To seek to obtain by legal process; as, to prosecute a right or a claim in a court of law.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sue

To follow.
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Prosecute

To pursue with the intention of punishing; to accuse of some crime or breach of law, or to pursue for redress or punishment, before a legal tribunal; to proceed against judicially; as, to prosecute a man for trespass, or for a riot.
To acquit themselves and prosecute their foes.
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Sue

To follow up; to chase; to seek after; to endeavor to win; to woo.
For yet there was no man that haddle him sued.
I was beloved of many a gentle knight,And sued and sought with all the service due.
Sue me, and woo me, and flatter me.
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Prosecute

To follow after.
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Sue

To seek justice or right from, by legal process; to institute process in law against; to bring an action against; to prosecute judicially.
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Oct 19, 2023

Prosecute

To institute and carry on a legal prosecution; as, to prosecute for public offenses.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sue

To clean, as the beak; - said of a hawk.
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Prosecute

Conduct a prosecution in a court of law
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Oct 19, 2023

Sue

To leave high and dry on shore; as, to sue a ship.
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Prosecute

Bring a criminal action against (in a trial);
The State of California prosecuted O.J. Simpson
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Sue

To seek by request; to make application; to petition; to entreat; to plead.
By adverse destiny constrained to sueFor counsel and redress, he sues to you.
Cæsar came to Rome to sue for the double honor of a triumph and the consulship.
The Indians were defeated and sued for peace.
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Oct 19, 2023

Prosecute

Carry out or participate in an activity; be involved in;
She pursued many activities
They engaged in a discussion
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Sue

To prosecute; to make legal claim; to seek (for something) in law; as, to sue for damages.
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Oct 19, 2023

Prosecute

To formally accuse someone of a crime in a court.
The state decided to prosecute the individual for embezzlement.
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Dec 05, 2023

Sue

To woo; to pay addresses as a lover.
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Oct 19, 2023

Prosecute

Engaging in the legal process of criminal justice.
The prosecution of high-profile cases often attracts media attention.
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Sue

To be left high and dry on the shore, as a ship.
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Sue

French writer whose novels described the sordid side of city life (1804-1857)
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Sue

Institute legal proceedings against; file a suit against;
He was warned that the district attorney would process him
She actioned the company for discrimination
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Sue

The act of pursuing civil justice in a legal setting.
Victims of the defective product banded together to sue the manufacturer.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does it mean to sue?

To initiate a lawsuit in civil court for damages or redress.
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Can anyone sue someone?

Yes, any individual or entity can file a civil lawsuit.
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What types of cases are prosecuted?

Criminal cases, such as theft, assault, or drug offenses.
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What does it mean to prosecute?

It means to formally charge and try someone for a criminal offense.
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Who can prosecute a case?

Usually a government attorney, like a district attorney.
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Are lawsuits always about money?

Often, but they can also seek other remedies like injunctions.
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What's the outcome of prosecution?

Potential penalties include jail, probation, or fines.
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Can a prosecution case turn into a lawsuit?

Sometimes, especially if there are civil damages involved.
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Do you need a lawyer to sue someone?

It's advisable, but individuals can represent themselves in civil court.
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What issues can lead to a lawsuit?

Personal injury, contract disputes, defamation, etc.
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What can be gained from suing?

Financial compensation, restitution, or specific performance.
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Who decides the outcome in prosecution?

A judge or jury, based on the evidence presented.
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Is prosecution done for personal reasons?

No, it's carried out in the interest of public order and safety.
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Who decides the outcome in a lawsuit?

Typically a judge or jury, depending on the case.
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Can the government sue someone?

Yes, in civil matters unrelated to criminal prosecution.
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Can a lawsuit lead to criminal prosecution?

If a civil case reveals criminal activity, it might.
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Can a criminal case also be a civil case?

Yes, some incidents can lead to both criminal and civil actions.
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Can you settle a lawsuit out of court?

Yes, many civil cases are settled through negotiation.
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Do you need a lawyer to prosecute?

Prosecution is typically handled by government lawyers.
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What is a plea bargain in prosecution?

An agreement to plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid trial.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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