The biggest difference between civil and criminal litigation is in the investigations that are done before the case is filed. In a criminal case, most of the investigation is done before the case is brought against the defendant. The police and prosecutor’s office have extensive legal powers to obtain information and deal with witnesses before a case is filed; the process is called discovery. A private civil litigant, such as a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case, has only limited access to legal process to assist discovery before a case is filed. Once the case is filed, however, both the plaintiff and defendant in civil cases have extensive powers to get information from each other and from witnesses and other persons who have information about the case. In contrast, the criminal defendant has only a very limited duty to provide any information to the prosecutor, and, although the prosecutor must provide the defendant with certain information, there is much less discovery between the parties than in a civil case.