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civil

adj. 1) that part of the law that encompasses business, contracts, estates, domestic (family) relations, accidents, negligence and everything related to legal issues, statutes and lawsuits, that is not criminal law. In a few areas civil and criminal law may overlap or coincide. For example, a person may be liable under a civil lawsuit for negligently killing a pedestrian with his auto by running over the person and be charged with the crime of vehicular homicide due to his/her reckless driving. Assault may bring about arrest by the police under criminal law and a lawsuit by the party attacked under civil law. 2) referring to one's basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution (and the interpretations and statutes intended to implement the enforcement of those rights) such as voting, equitable taxation, freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly. Generally these are referred to as "civil rights," which have required constant diligence and struggle to ensure and expand, as in the Civil Rights movement between 1950 and 1980. Violation of one's civil rights may be a crime under federal and/or state statutes. Civil rights include civil liberties. Civil liberties emphasize protection from infringement upon basic freedoms, while statutory rights are based on laws passed by Congress or state legislatures.

See also: civil liberties  civil rights 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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