nEarly on the common law developed a distinction between civil law and criminal law. The criminal law sought to punish people for offenses against the Crown; the civil law provided remedies for essentially private wrongs.
nAs defined by the common law, a crime was an intentional evil act that produced harm to the society.
nCriminal prosecutions were brought by the Crown in cases styled, for example, Rex v. Jones
or Regina v. Smith (in
Latin, “Rex” means king; “Regina” means queen).
nIn criminal cases the sovereign was always the
plaintiff, that is, the party
initiating the legal action. The accused offender was always the defendant, the party against whom legal action has been brought.