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Legal Definition and Related Resources of Penalty

Meaning of Penalty

A punishment . Suffering in person or property as a punishment annexed by law or judicial decision to a violation of law. Also a definite sum named in a contract , not as a genuine preestimate of damages for breach , but as a punishment for same or as security for actual damages which might be sustained by reason of non- performance . See Steen v Bruce, (Mo.App.)366 S. W.2d 732; also see liquidated damages .

Penalty Alternative Definition

The punishment inflicted by law for an illegal act. The term is used loosely to embrace all the consequences visited by law on those who violate police regulations. 26 Mich. 482. In a narrower sense it is confined to pecuniary penalties. The terms fine, forfeiture and penalty are often used loosely and even confusedly. But when a discrimination is made, the word ‘penalty’ is found to be generic in its character, including both fine and forfeiture. 4 Iowa, 300. In its narrowest sense, it includes only pecuniary punishment imposed by statute for such unlawful acts as do not constitute crimes or which are for this purpose regarded in other than their criminal aspect. In Contracts. A clause in an agreement, by which the obligor agrees to pay a certain sum of money if he shall fail to fulfill the contract contained in another clause of the same agreement. A penal obligation differs from an alternative obligation, for this is but one in its essence; while a penalty always Includes two distinct engagements, and when the first is fulfilled the second is void. When a breach has taken place, the obligor has his option to require the fulfillment of the first obligation, or the payment of the penalty, in those cases which cannot be relieved in equity, when the penalty is considered as liquidated damages.

Synonyms of Penalty


  • amercement
  • castigation
  • compulsory payment
  • cost
  • deprivation
  • disadvantage
  • disciplinary action
  • fine
  • forefeiture
  • forfeit
  • handicap
  • infliction
  • liability
  • loss
  • multa
  • onus
  • penal retribution
  • penance
  • poena
  • prescribed punishment
  • punishment
  • punishment fixed by law
  • punishment prescribed by law
  • reprisal
  • retributive justice
  • sconce
  • sentence
  • Associated Concepts: action for penalty
  • civil penalty
  • confiscatory penalty
  • criminal penalty
  • excessive penalty
  • penalty clause
  • penalty for forfeiture
  • subject to penaltyforeign phrases: Quod a quoquepoenae nomine exactum estideidemrestituerenemocogitur
  • No one is compelled to restore that which has been exacted as a penalty

Related Entries of Penalty in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Penalty in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Penalty in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Penalty in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Penalty in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Capital, Commutation, , Electrocution, , Forfeiture, Fugitive, Immunity, Impose, Impunity, , Liquidated Damages, Penal, Penal Action, Petty Offense, Presumption Of Innocence, Punishment, Sanction, Self-incrimination, Subpoena.

Translate Victim’s Penalty Assessment from English to Spanish

Translation of Victim’s Penalty Assessment , with examples. More about free online translation into Spanish of Impuesto penal para compensación de las víctimas and other legal terms is available here.

Translate Penalty from English to Spanish

Translation of Penalty , with examples. More about free online translation into Spanish of Sanción and other legal terms is available here.


You might be interested in these references tools:

Resource Description
Penalty in the Dictionary Penalty in our legal dictionaries
Browse the Legal Thesaurus Find synonyms and related words of Penalty
Legal Maxims Maxims are established principles that jurists use as interpretive tools, invoked more frequently in international law
Legal Answers (Q&A) A community-driven knowledge creation process, of enduring value to a broad audience
Related topics Penalty in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Penalty is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)

Resource Description
Topic Map A group of names, occurrences and associations
Topic Tree A topic display format, showing the hierarchy
Sitemap Index Sitemap Index, including Taxonomies The URI of Penalty (more about URIs)

Penalty in Law Enforcement

Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of penalty.

Meaning of Penalty in Spanish

Description/ translation of penalty into Spanish: sanción, pena; monetary penalty: pena pecuniaria[1]

Note: for more information on related terms and on the area of law where penalty belongs (criminal procedure law), in Spanish, see here.

Notes and References

  1. Translation of Penalty published by Antonio Peñaranda


See Also

  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Police
  • Law Enforcement Agency

Further Reading

Penalty Definition (in the Accounting Vocabulary)

The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants offers the following definition of Penalty in a way that is easy for anybody to understand: The various government codes contain numerous provisions which impose penalties on a taxpayer (any type of taxpayer) for failure to perform a specific act or omitting vital information on a return.

United States Tax Concept of Penalty

A fine charged by the IRS for various infractions including filing your tax return and/or paying your taxes late. The amount of the fine depends on the nature of the infraction. You may be charged interest in addition to penalties. Tax penalties are not deductible.

Concept of Penalty in the context of Real Property

A short definition of Penalty: A punishment. In a real estate contract containing a liquidated damage clause, the clause is not valid if construed as a penalty. See: Liquidated Damages.

Concept of Penalty in the context of Real Property

A short definition of Penalty: A punishment. In a real estate contract containing a liquidated damage clause, the clause is not valid if construed as a penalty. See: Liquidated Damages.


Hierarchical Display of Penalty

Law > Criminal law

Meaning of Penalty

Overview and more information about Penalty

For a more comprehensive understanding of Penalty, see in the general part of the online platform.[rtbs name=”xxx-xxx”]


Translation of Penalty

Thesaurus of Penalty

Law > Criminal law > Penalty

See also


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