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A wrong (from Old English wrang crooked) [1] is an act that is illegal or immoral. [2] Legal wrongs are usually quite clearly defined in the law of a state and/or jurisdiction. They can be divided into civil wrongs and crimes (or criminal offences) in common law countries, [2] while civil law countries tend to have some additional categories, such as contraventions.

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

Law system of rules and guidelines, generally backed by governmental authority

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

State (polity) organised community living under a system of government; either a sovereign state, constituent state, or federated state

A state is a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a certain geographical territory.


Moral wrong is an underlying concept for legal wrong. Some moral wrongs are punishable by law, for example, rape or murder. [2] Other moral wrongs have nothing to do with law. On the other hand, some legal wrongs, such as parking offences, could hardly be classified as moral wrongs. [2]

Morality differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are proper and those that are improper

Morality is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with "goodness" or "rightness".

Rape type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse without consent

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.

Murder Unlawful killing of a human with malice aforethought

Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. This state of mind may, depending upon the jurisdiction, distinguish murder from other forms of unlawful homicide, such as manslaughter. Manslaughter is a killing committed in the absence of malice, brought about by reasonable provocation, or diminished capacity. Involuntary manslaughter, where it is recognized, is a killing that lacks all but the most attenuated guilty intent, recklessness.

In law, a wrong can be a legal injury, which is any damage resulting from a violation of a legal right. A legal wrong can also imply the state of being contrary to the principles of justice or law. It means that something is contrary to conscience or morality and results in treating others unjustly. If the loss caused by a wrong is minor enough, there is no compensation, which principle is known as de minimis non curat lex . Otherwise, damages apply.

Injury physiological wound caused by an external source

Injury, also known as physical trauma, is damage to the body caused by external force. This may be caused by accidents, falls, hits, weapons, and other causes. Major trauma is injury that has the potential to cause prolonged disability or death.

De minimis is a Latin expression meaning "about minimal things", normally in the locutions de minimis non curat praetor or de minimis non curat lex a legal doctrine by which a court refuses to consider trifling matters. Queen Christina of Sweden (r. 1633–1654) favoured the similar Latin adage, aquila non capit muscās.

The law of England recognised the concept of a "wrong" before it recognised the distinction between civil wrongs (governed by civil law) and crimes (defined by criminal law), which distinction was developed during the thirteenth century. [3]

A civil wrong or wrong is a cause of action under the law of the governing body. Tort, breach of contract and breach of trust are types of civil wrong. Something that amounts to a civil wrong is said to be wrongful. A wrong involves the violation of a right because wrong and right are complementary terms. A statement that an act complained of is legally wrongful as regards the party complaining implicitly includes a statement that the act complained of prejudicially affects the party complaining in some legal right.

Civil law is a branch of the law. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales, the law of Pakistan and the law of the United States, the term refers to non-criminal law. The law relating to civil wrongs and quasi-contracts is part of the civil law, as is law of property. Civil law may, like criminal law, be divided into substantive law and procedural law. The rights and duties of persons amongst themselves is the primary concern of civil law. It is often suggested that civil proceedings are taken for the purpose of obtaining compensation for injury, and may thus be distinguished from criminal proceedings, whose purpose is to inflict punishment. However, exemplary damages or punitive damages may be awarded in civil proceedings. It was also formerly possible for common informers to sue for a penalty in civil proceedings.

Crime unlawful act forbidden and punishable by criminal law

In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term "crime" does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition, though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes. The most popular view is that crime is a category created by law; in other words, something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law. One proposed definition is that a crime or offence is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society or the state. Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.

See also

An error is an action which is inaccurate or incorrect. In some usages, an error is synonymous with a mistake. In statistics, "error" refers to the difference between the value which has been computed and the correct value.

Evil profound immorality

Evil, in a general sense, is the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, though in everyday usage is often used more narrowly to denote profound wickedness. It is generally seen as taking multiple possible forms, such as the form of personal moral evil commonly associated with the word, or impersonal natural evil, and in religious thought, the form of the demonic or supernatural/eternal.

Guilt (law) state of being legally responsible for the commission of an offense

In criminal law, guilt is the state of being responsible for the commission of an offense. Legal guilt is entirely externally defined by the state, or more generally a "court of law". Being "guilty" of a criminal offense means that one has committed a violation of criminal law, or performed all the elements of the offense set out by a criminal statute. The determination that one has committed that violation is made by an external body and is, therefore, as definitive as the record-keeping of the body. So the most basic definition is fundamentally circular: a person is guilty of violating a law, if a court says so.

Related Research Articles

An assault is the act of inflicting physical harm or unwanted physical contact upon a person or, in some specific legal definitions, a threat or attempt to commit such an action. It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in either criminal and/or civil liability. Generally, the common law definition is the same in criminal and tort law.

The term felony, in some common law countries, is defined as a serious crime. The word originates from English common law, where felonies were originally crimes involving confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods. Other crimes were called misdemeanors. Many common law countries have now abolished the felony/misdemeanor distinction and replaced it with other distinctions, such as between indictable offences and summary offences. A felony is generally considered a crime of high seriousness, but a misdemeanor is not.

Justice Concept of moral fairness and administration of the law

Justice, in its broadest context, includes both the attainment of that which is just and the philosophical discussion of that which is just. The concept of justice is based on numerous fields, and many differing viewpoints and perspectives including the concepts of moral correctness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness. Often, the general discussion of justice is divided into the realm of social justice as found in philosophy, theology and religion, and, procedural justice as found in the study and application of the law.

A misdemeanor is any "lesser" criminal act in some common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences. Many misdemeanors are punished with monetary fines.

MNaghten rules Guideline governing legal pleas of insanity

The M'Naghten rule is any variant of the 1840s jury instruction in a criminal case when there is a defense of insanity:

that every man is to be presumed to be sane, and ... that to establish a defence on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.

A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act.

Criminal procedure is the adjudication process of the criminal law. While criminal procedure differs dramatically by jurisdiction, the process generally begins with a formal criminal charge with the person on trial either being free on bail or incarcerated, and results in the conviction or acquittal of the defendant. Criminal procedure can be either in form of inquisitorial or adversarial criminal procedure.

English law legal system of England and Wales

English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising mainly criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures.

Delict is a term in civil law jurisdictions for a civil wrong consisting of an intentional or negligent breach of duty of care that inflicts loss or harm and which triggers legal liability for the wrongdoer; however, its meaning varies from one jurisdiction to another. Other civil wrongs include breach of contract and breach of trust. Liability is imposed on the basis of moral responsibility, i.e. a duty of care or to act, and fault (culpa) is the main element of liability. The term is used in mixed legal systems such as Scotland, South Africa, Louisiana and the Philippines, but tort is the equivalent legal term used in common law jurisdictions.

Legal positivism is a school of thought of analytical jurisprudence largely developed by legal thinkers in the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Jeremy Bentham and John Austin. While Bentham and Austin developed legal positivist theory, empiricism set the theoretical foundations for such developments to occur. The most prominent legal positivist writing in English has been H. L. A. Hart, who in 1958 found common usages of "positivism" as applied to law to include the contentions that:

  1. laws are commands of human beings
  2. there is no necessary connection between law and morality, that is, between law as it is and as it ought to be.
  3. analysis of legal concepts is worthwhile and is to be distinguished from history or sociology of law, as well as from criticism or appraisal of law, for example with regard to its moral value or to its social aims or functions
  4. a legal system is a closed, logical system in which correct decisions can be deduced from predetermined legal rules without reference to social considerations
  5. moral judgments, unlike statements of fact, cannot be established or defended by rational argument, evidence, or proof
Political crime

In criminology, a political crime or political offence is an offence involving overt acts or omissions, which prejudice the interests of the state, its government, or the political system. It is to be distinguished from state crime, in which it is the states that break both their own criminal laws or public international law.

The law of restitution is the law of gains-based recovery. It is to be contrasted with the law of compensation, which is the law of loss-based recovery. When a court orders restitution it orders the defendant to give up his/her gains to the claimant. When a court orders compensation it orders the defendant to pay the claimant for his or her loss.

Legality can be defined as an act, agreement, or contract that is consistent with the law or state of being lawful or unlawful in a given jurisdiction.


Criminalization or criminalisation, in criminology, is "the process by which behaviors and individuals are transformed into crime and criminals". Previously legal acts may be transformed into crimes by legislation or judicial decision. However, there is usually a formal presumption in the rules of statutory interpretation against the retrospective application of laws and only the use of express words by the legislature may rebut this presumption. The power of judges to make new law and retrospectively criminalise behaviour is also discouraged. In a less overt way, where laws have not been strictly enforced, the acts prohibited by those laws may also undergo de facto criminalization through more effective or committed legal enforcement.

In private international law, the public policy doctrine or ordre public concerns the body of principles that underpin the operation of legal systems in each state. This addresses the social, moral and economic values that tie a society together: values that vary in different cultures and change over time. Law regulates behaviour either to reinforce existing social expectations or to encourage constructive change, and laws are most likely to be effective when they are consistent with the most generally accepted societal norms and reflect the collective morality of the society.

Manslaughter is a common law legal term for homicide considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is sometimes said to have first been made by the ancient Athenian lawmaker Draco in the 7th century BC.

English criminal law

English criminal law concerns offences, their prevention and the consequences, in England and Wales. Criminal conduct is considered to be a wrong against the whole of a community, rather than just the private individuals affected. The state, in addition to certain international organisations, has responsibility for crime prevention, for bringing the culprits to justice, and for dealing with convicted offenders. The police, the criminal courts and prisons are all publicly funded services, though the main focus of criminal law concerns the role of the courts, how they apply criminal statutes and common law, and why some forms of behaviour are considered criminal. The fundamentals of a crime are a guilty act and a guilty mental state. The traditional view is that moral culpability requires that a defendant should have recognised or intended that they were acting wrongly, although in modern regulation a large number of offences relating to road traffic, environmental damage, financial services and corporations, create strict liability that can be proven simply by the guilty act.

English law did not originally make a distinction between criminal and civil proceedings.


  1. "crime". Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Elizabeth A. Martin (2003). Oxford Dictionary of Law (7 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0198607563.
  3. O. Hood Phillips, A First Book of English Law, Sweet and Maxwell, 4th ed., 1960, pp. 207, 208, 213