A wrong (from oe wrang – crooked) is an act that is illegal or immoral. Legal wrongs are usually quite clearly defined in law of each state or jurisdiction. They can be divided into civil wrongs and crimes (or criminal offences) in common law countries, while civil law countries tend to have some additional categories, such as contraventions.
Moral wrong is an underlying concept for legal wrong, and some moral wrongs are punishable by law, for example rape or murder. 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.
In law, a wrong can be a legal injury, which is any damage resulting from a violation of a legal right. It 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.
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.
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- Willis, Hugh. Principles of the Law of Damages. The Keefe-Davidson Co.: St. Paul, 1910.
- "crime". Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009.
- Elizabeth A. Martin (2003). Oxford Dictionary of Law (7 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198607563.
- O. Hood Phillips, A First Book of English Law, Sweet and Maxwell, 4th ed., 1960, pp. 207, 208, 213