What is 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 eases.” Fenstermacher v. State, 19 Or. 504, 25 Pac. 142.

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