Civil penalty

A civil penalty is a financial penalty imposed by a government entity. The penalty is imposed because the recipient of the penalty has breached one or more government laws or regulations. The penalty is intended to compensate the government, as well as to ensure that there is a strong incentive for the recipient of the penalty not to engage in the same behavior again. A civil penalty is not the same as a criminal penalty, where an individual can be required to serve time in jail. For a government entity to enforce a civil penalty, the burden of proof is less onerous than for a criminal penalty; thus, the accused party can be found guilty if it is more than 50% likely that the party is responsible. For example, civil penalties can be imposed when a party is proven to have made an error in a filed tax return, or in complying with environmental laws.