A lawsuit that is not criminal in nature and usually a dispute regarding private property rights such as breach of contract, divorce, negligence and personal injury, probate proceedings, etc.
Law Dictionary – Alternative Legal Definition
In the civil law. A personal action which is instituted to compel payment, or the doing some other thing which is purely civil. At common law. As distinguished from a criminal action, it is one which seeks the establishment, recovery, or redress of private and civil rights. Civil suits relate to and affect, as to the parties against whom they are brought, only individual rights which are within their individual control, and which they may part with at their pleasure. The design of such suits is the enforcement of merely private obligations and duties. Criminal prosecutions, on the other hand, involve public wrongs, or a breach and violation of public rights and duties, which affect the whole community, considered as such in its social and aggregate capacity. The end they have in view is the prevention of similar offenses, not atonement or expiation for crime committed. Cancemi v. People, 18 N. Y. 128. Civil cases are those which involve disputes or contests between man and man, and which only terminate in the adjustment of the rights of plaintiffs and defendants. They include all cases which cannot legally be denominated “criminal cases.” Fenstermacher v. State, 19 Or. 504, 25 Pac. 142. In code practice. A civil action is a proceeding in a court of justice in which one party, known as the “plaintiff,” demands against another party, known as the “defendant,” the enforcement or protection of a private right, or the prevention or redress of a private wrong. It may also be brought for the recovery of a penalty or forfeiture. Rev. Code Iowa 1880,