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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 ?
There are not only discrete deontic qualities, such as rightness and wrongness, but within the space of wrong actions there is a continuum ranging from, say, very wrong indeed to nearly right.
The consequences of thinking forbidden thoughts about the moral wrongness of death are fraught with danger.
To determine their rightness or wrongness. There are any number of bases for making such determinations.
At an early age, I felt a wrongness in the universe, which became in adult life a questioning of the systems we live in.
I cite this non-Western tradition to suggest that metaphysical uncertainty can be acknowledged at the same time that the wrongness of violence is attested.
Here Curran is arguing for judging moral actions in terms of their utility or consequences, not their intrinsic rightness or wrongness. One of the main arguments in favour of the minority report of the papal commission on birth control, therefore, is that those who threw it over were likely to oppose other parts of Catholic moral teaching, and, in fact, the objective moral standards which the Church has always used.
Both issues are treated well, though one might have hoped for the general description of sexuality(93-94) to precede any comments about the rightness or wrongness of behavior(91-92).
But in Thompson's general discussion of history, his proper scoring of Fukuyama's wrongness about Hegel is dulled by his own wrongness about Hegel.
Catholic bishops are expected to issue a statement in November 1994 that will strongly reaffirm a pro-life position with special emphasis on the wrongness of the death penalty.
Although, like the other senses, it is not immune from illusion and delusion, its existence explains how people come to possess moral knowledge and why, for the most part, we agree in our judgments of rightness and wrongness.
We base decisions of rightness and wrongness on our own understandings.