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A violation, by one individual, of another individual's legal rights.

The idea of rights suggests the opposite idea of wrongs, for every right is capable of being violated. For example, a right to receive payment for goods sold implies a wrong on the part of the person who owes, but does not make payment. In the most general point of view, the law is intended to establish and maintain rights, yet in its everyday application, the law must deal with rights and wrongs. The law first fixes the character and definition of rights, and then seeks to secure these rights by defining wrongs and devising the means to prevent these wrongs or provide for their redress.

The Criminal Law is charged with preventing and punishing public wrongs. Public wrongs are violations of public rights and duties that affect the whole community.

A private wrong, also called a civil wrong, is a violation of public or private rights that injures an individual and consequently is subject to civil redress or compensation. A civil wrong that is not based on breach of contract is a tort. Torts include assault, Battery, libel, slander, intentional infliction of mental distress, and damage to property. The same act or omission that makes a tort may also be a breach of contract, but it is the Negligence, not the breaking of the contract, that is the tort. For example, if a lawyer is negligent in representing his client, the lawyer may be sued both for Malpractice, which is a tort, and for breach of the attorney-client contract.

The word wrongful is attached to numerous types of injurious conduct. For example, wrongful death is a type of lawsuit brought on behalf of a deceased person's beneficiaries that alleges that the death was attributable to the willful or negligent conduct of another. However, even in these special contexts, the words wrong, wrongful, and wrongfully do not sharply delineate the exact nature of the wrongness. Their presence merely signifies that something bad has occurred.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

WRONG. An injury; (q.v.) a tort (q.v.) a violation of right. In its most usual sense, wrong signifies an injury committed to the person or property of another, or to his relative rights, unconnected with contract; and these wrongs are committed with or without force. But in a more extended signification, wrong includes the violation of a contract; a failure by a man to perform his undertaking or promise is a wrong or injury to him to whom it was made. 3 Bl. Com. 158.
     2. Wrongs are divided into public and private. 1. A public wrong is an act which is injurious to the public generally, commonly known by the name of crime, misdemeanor, or offence, and it is punishable in various ways, such as indictments, summary proceedings, and upon conviction by death, imprisonment, fine, &c. 2. Private wrongs, which are injuries to individuals, unaffecting the public: these are redressed by actions for damages, &c.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
John Hilton WHAT went wrong? To begin with it has to be attitude.
These speakers drew an audience to match, which gave the assembly the aspect of a high level forum on what went wrong and why in AI as a whole.
Where she went wrong: Although men's suits are a big look this winter, Nicole's high-shine Dior version looks more Bags More Buzz at Burton than Bond Street, and is eerily reminiscent of Ben Elton's stand-up suit on Friday Night Live.
Dennis Hayes, who led the first Earth Day organization and who stepped away from a law practice to take charge of this April's event, has done some serious thinking about that 20-year period and what went wrong. He acknowledges the American conservation movement-including the early role of AFA-as a long and distinguished tradition.
He added: "Whether something went wrong, we will discover in due course and if there is something that went wrong then we will address that...
He said it was a prank which went wrong and as soon as it happened he put the flames out.
Recounting the volatile relationship between Ronald Reagan and his on-again, off-again campaign manager John Sears, Klein blames Sears for everything that went wrong in 76 and everything that almost went wrong in '80.
"At exactly the same point where he went wrong the first time, he's gone wrong again.
Fire crews were called to Ravensthorpe after an amateur fish smoking operation went wrong.
Byron said yesterday: "We want to know what went wrong, why it went wrong and who made the mistakes."
Tom Flaherty, his trainer, said yesterday: "Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong and he found all sorts of trouble, but to be fair most of it was of his own making.
A man was taken to hospital in the early today after a drunken prank went wrong.