Quasi-Criminal Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Quasi-Criminal, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Quasi-Criminal?

(Adj) During trial on a civil maintenance case, a court can act as if it was a criminal case to punish the involved persons for their misdoings, by issuing orders as ‘quasi criminal’. For example sending a person to jail for contempt of court.

History and Meaning of Quasi-Criminal

The legal term "quasi-criminal" refers to a legal proceeding that has the characteristics or consequences of a criminal proceeding while remaining within the realm of civil law. It dictates that even though a case is in civil court, certain orders can be issued that would otherwise only be issued in criminal cases. The goal is to provide a fair outcome in cases where the accused may have committed a wrong, but not necessarily a crime.

Quasi-criminal laws were created to prevent wrongdoings, such as breaking court orders, that carry the potential for incarceration. Because of this, the court has the power to take up measures that would otherwise be reserved for criminal cases, like contempt of court. A "quasi-criminal" action holds individuals responsible for acts or omissions that are not necessarily illegal, but deemed morally wrong or a violation of the court's orders.

Examples of Quasi-Criminal

Here are a few examples of situations in which the term "quasi-criminal" may apply:

  • A judge holding someone in contempt of court for violation of a court order, despite not being a criminal case.
  • The government taking administrative actions against an individual or company, rather than prosecuting them in criminal court.
  • Traffic violations that result in fines or points on a driver's license, but are not considered criminal offenses.
  • A school punishing students for violating school rules or a code of ethics, despite not being a criminal offense.

Legal Terms Similar to Quasi-Criminal

Here are some related terms to "quasi-criminal":

  • Civil law: This is an area of law that deals primarily with private disputes between individuals, rather than criminal charges.
  • Administrative law: This refers to the body of law that controls the activities of administrative agencies, and often involves "quasi-judicial" or "quasi-criminal" proceedings.
  • Contempt of Court: This is an act of disrespect or disobedience towards a court's authority or order, and is punishable even in civil court proceedings.