First of all, the main difference between a civil and a criminal case in the state of New York is the following: only the state of New York is allowed to legally prosecute an individual for a criminal case while a civil case on the other hand is the result of an individual charging someone of having committed a criminal action.
A criminal action is defined by the New York State Law as being one that "commences with the filing of an accusatory instrument against a defendant in a criminal court". It can also refer to the "filing of all further accusatory instruments that are derived from the initial one, and all proceedings, orders and motions conducted or made by a criminal court in the course of disposing of any such accusatory instrument".
In order for a criminal case to proceed in New York, an official police report needs to exist in order to properly document the circumstances that have led to the crime that has been allegedly committed by a NY citizen. At the end of the analysis of the respective report, one could be charged with an infraction, a felony or a misdemeanor. Infractions are considered to be the least serious types of charges one could face, as they normally imply the coverage of a fine. Misdemeanors or felonies will most likely imply the issuance of an arrest warrant. The warrant needs to be approves by a sitting judge after he or she is able to identify a probable cause. In case there has been an error, the arrest warrant and all the charges will be dismissed.
The successful arrest of the suspect will trigger a preliminary hearing. The information concerning the felony that the suspect is accused of will be filed. The NY police will use this information to further investigate the case. Next, the defendant will enter his or her plea (guilty or not guilty). This will be done with the help of a lawyer.
If the suspect or the defendant enters a "guilty" plea, the sitting judge will also enter his or her judgment, order the sentence and imprison the felon. In case the plea entered is that of "not guilty", then further investigation will be made and both parties will present their side of information.