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During the Anglo-Saxon period of English history, a person who committed certain crimes lost whatever protection he or she had under the law, forfeited whatever property he or she owned, and could be killed by anyone. If the crime committed was Treason or a felony, a declaration of outlawry was tantamount to a conviction and attainder. Outlawry for a misdemeanor did not, however, amount to a conviction for the offense. The Norman Conquest led to significant changes in the law governing outlawry, eventually leading to its abolition.
OUTLAWRY, Eng. law. The act of being put out of the protection of the law
by process regularly sued out against a person who is in contempt in
refusing to become amenable to the court having jurisdiction. The
proceedings themselves are also called the outlawry.
2. Outlawry may take place in criminal or in civil cases. 3 Bl. Com. 283; Co. Litt. 128; 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 4196.
3. In the United States, outlawry in civil cases is unknown, and if there are any cases of outlawry in criminal cases they are very rare. Dane's Ab. eh. 193, a, 34. Vide Bac. Ab. Abatement, B; Id. h.t.; Gilb. Hist. C. P. 196, 197; 2 Virg. Cas. 244; 2 Dall. 92.