about "crime" and "civil offence" Re: IPRED2 thaws in December

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at fsfe.org
Mon Nov 26 10:56:37 UTC 2007

Someone has pointed out that my use of "civil offence" and "criminal
offence" makes sense in Ireland but not in Belgium.

The distinction I was making is between breaches of the law that are
investigated by the police/government regardless of whether someone's filed
a complaint or not, and breaches of the law that the police will only
investigate if there is a complaint.

Murder is an obvious example of the former, and slander is an obvious
example of the latter.

In Ireland, the former is called a "criminal offence" and the latter is a
"civil offence".  In Belgium, they're both called a "crime", but one is an
"automatically enforced crime" and the other is "a crime that is only
enforced when there is a complaint".

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