Video encyclopedia

Civil penalty


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A civil penalty or civil fine is a financial penalty imposed by a government agency as restitution for wrongdoing. The wrongdoing is typically defined by a codification of legislation, regulations, and decrees. The civil fine is not considered to be a criminal punishment, because it is primarily sought in order to compensate the state for harm done to it, rather than to punish the wrongful conduct. As such, a civil penalty, in itself, will not carry jail time or other legal penalties. For example, if a person were to dump toxic waste in a state park, the state would have the same right to seek to recover the cost of cleaning up the mess as would a private landowner, and to bring the complaint to a court of law, if necessary.
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